Text description provided by the architects. The Florida International University Alvah H. Chapman Jr. Graduate School of Business serves as an academic mixed-use facility accommodating faculty and administrative offices, conference rooms, auditorium, as well as two open public courtyards. Architects KPF developed a two phase design creating two distinct communities of students and faculty, the courtyards being the linking element between them.
The identity of the Alvah H. Chapman Jr. Graduate School of Business at Florida International University in Miami merges a strong link to the Americas with the image and actuality of a modern facility. The low-rise, courtyard design opens toward the existing Business Administration building with a strong diagonal pathway that allows east-west breezes to filter through the new complex.
The phased design creates two distinct communities—one for students, another for faculty—linked by proximity, formal expression, and materials. Phase One houses classrooms, administrative offices, a multipurpose facility, a 300-seat auditorium, and student support spaces. Phase Two contains academic centers and faculty offices. The buildings are wrapped in precast concrete panels, which are sandblasted to create texture and pattern, while the courtyards are finished in vividly colored stucco, a palette inspired by pre-Columbian art to honor the cultural heritage of the largely Latin and Hispanic student body.
The concept of two interlocking courtyards emerged out of the school’s desire to foster interaction between the students, faculty, and administration, while supporting the independence required by the academic programs. The first courtyard is anchored by a grand staircase, which recalls Mayan stepped structures and provides an informal gathering place for students and faculty. Classrooms are accessed through an open-air arcade, taking advantage of Miami’s subtropical climate. The second courtyard, delineated by a water basin, forms an enclave for faculty offices.
Oriented to optimize and capture the prevailing winds from the west, the buildings are sliced at their corners to temper and ventilate the landscaped interior courtyards. In conjunction with water basins and dense plantings, the breezeways ensure that the courtyards are comfortable, even during the hottest hours of the day. By night, the open corners reveal the illuminated courtyards to the surrounding campus, creating a welcoming and dynamic environment for the many students who attend evening classes at the school.
The FIU Chapman Graduate School of Business received the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design American Architecture Award (2008) and the Construction Association of South Florida Craftsmanship Awards (2008).