It was worth the wait.
In November 2019, SDA Bocconi School of Management opened the doors to its brand-new Milan campus. A few months later, coronavirus shut down the world, and the new campus with it.
With life beginning to return to normal, the premier Italian business school — ranked 13th in the world by The Financial Times and second internationally by Poets&Quants — has fully opened the doors to its sparkling new campus, a 50,000-square-meter area built on the grounds of what was originally a milk factory. The price tag for the B-school’s new home: more than 130 million euros.
Designed by internationally renowned Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Sanaa Studio, SDA Bocconi’s campus juxtaposes the historical charm of the area: on one side of the street sits the original 1945-built Bocconi University, and on the other the prestigious, modern B-school.
Although covid caused the campus to shut down soon after its completion — and multiple times throughout the pandemic’s fluctuating waves — Giusseppe Soda, SDA Bocconi School of Management dean and professor of organizational design, says the feedback from students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive.
“This was a huge investment,” Soda says. “But we’re happy with our students’ reactions.”
Amenities range from a sports center, Olympic-size swimming pool, gym, bars and restaurants to workstations, conference rooms, common spaces that display contemporary art, and green spaces. All were built with the intention to create a “city within the city,” Soda says.
The new campus consists of five buildings: for executive courses, for staff and faculty offices, for master’s courses, and for university residents, the latter accommodating over 300 students. There is also a sports center, which is also open to the public. The campus also houses several innovative research labs and centers, which produce the cutting-edge knowledge that nurture the school’s teaching.
SUSTAINABILITY, TRANSPARENCY, AND CIRCULARITY
Soda says there are three main distinguishable features of this Milan campus: sustainability, transparency, and circularity.
With the goal of minimizing the use of artificial light and energy consumption, every roof houses high-efficiency solar panels, giving the campus energy-saving power. Because of this, the school received the LEED Platinum Certification, which is a leading eco-sustainability accreditation certification. “Our buildings have a system to filter the light of the sun coming into the campus, which creates the right thermal temperature depending on the season,” says Soda.
Each building is made of glass, which was intentionally designed to represent the transparency of the school. “The knowledge we produce is for the economy, companies, institutions, and society,” explains Soda. “We don’t want to be perceived as an ivory tower that produces knowledge in a self-referential way. The message we want to give the city is that we produce knowledge that benefits the society at large.”
The buildings are also reminiscent of the area’s milk factory history, which is why they’re white. “We produce knowledge, which, like milk, is another important nutrient for our growth,” he says.
Plus, the elliptical and circular architectural design gives students the impression that multiple possibilities can exist, and helps them make room for nuance. “The message we want to give our students is that nothing is linear,” says Soda. “We want to help future leaders to navigate the complexity of the world. Learning in a place like this with strange shapes physically helps them to understand that reality is not linear, but rather complex.”
PROVIDING A WORLD-CLASS LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Soda says that the school has still been able to create an ideal learning environment despite covid-19 campus closures, and has brought together different generations of students — from early-career people to senior executives. “We know that the future will encompass more hybrid learning,” says Soda. “But we believe that the quality of learning is in the quality of interactions that take place.”
To facilitate hybrid learning, the classrooms were equipped with video cameras, microphones, and sound-absorbing ceiling panels. In-person classmates receive a 360 degree, interactive learning experience in 40 classrooms with over 2,400 seats. “My hope is that this campus will help students to get a high quality, world-class learning experience,” Soda continues. “We are committed to offering the best possible learning by combining the beauty of the campus with our facilities.”
Learn more about the new Milan campus of SDA Bocconi here.
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