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$10-million donation made College of Business and Industry project possible

Expansion, renovation for McCool Hall at MSU

Starkville — Spurred by growth and changing needs, the College of Business and Industry at Mississippi State University is building a 54,000-square-foot expansion to McCool Hall, its home since 1975. The existing space is also being renovated. Construction began during the mid-winter semester break and is expected to take a year and a half to complete. A $10-million gift from an anonymous donor makes this expansion/renovation possible.

“It’s a step forward for the business school,” said Dr. Sara Freedman, dean of the college. “We’re excited about it. We need the space to do a better job with our academic programs. This will provide growth for the future.”

The expansion and renovation were designed by JH&H Architects of Jackson with construction by West Brothers Construction of Columbus.

Freedman says additional, more effective classrooms are included along with a second computer classroom, a 300-seat auditorium that’s state-of-the art and more office space.

Each classroom will be fully equipped with Internet and all technology available. Because this technology will be designed into the spaces, it will be less obtrusive. As an example of this upgrade, professors will be able to use white boards at the same time they’re showing information on large overhead screens.

“It will be more student friendly with an open atrium area that will allow them to congregate and with team rooms for students to work in small groups as they are frequently required to do,” she said. “The students are looking forward to it but the graduating students are complaining that it won’t be complete for them to use.”

What works — and what doesn’t

A committee of students, faculty and staff had input into the expansion and renovation. Faculty members were sent to other business schools that have built new facilities recently to see what works and doesn’t work.

“We spent a lot of time to make sure we get it right. We asked a lot of questions and got feedback,” Freedman said. “We’ve also had positive feedback from the alumni who’ve been supportive in keeping the existing classrooms up to date with technology.”

McCool Hall will receive new paint and carpet and a facelift to make some spaces more functional. The renovation begins February 1. When all work is complete in early fall of 2007, all classes of the college will be held in this building.

In addition to providing more space and a more student friendly environment, planners had goals of making the facility have a more professional look and make it a better blend with surrounding historical buildings. The task force worked with JH&H partner and project architect Bruce Wood to make it happen.

Asset to the campus

McCool Hall is in the historic heart of the MSU campus. It faces the Drill Field, an open quad area. The building is across the street from Montgomery Hall, a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “We paid attention to that and wanted to tie the buildings together,” Freedman said. “The area is a great asset to the campus as a whole.”

In an attempt to address these issues, architect Wood says the addition and renovation were designed to blend in with historical buildings but still have a contemporary flair.

“For instance, the windows will have the same proportions of window openings and nice corner cornices of stone that the historical buildings have,” he said.

Another aim of the design is for the atrium space to respond to the front of Montgomery Hall, a building that McCool Hall turned its back on. This design will begin to create a pedestrian way in that part of campus and enhance it.

“It’s difficult to take a building that is disliked on campus and add an expansion that will be liked,” Wood said. “It was a challenge. The addition has better scale and proportions and it responds to pedestrians. It’s not just a big box. It will be an interesting building.”

Wood, who’s been an architect for 17 years, will provide construction administration as the work is implemented. His firm worked with Perkins & Will, a worldwide architectural group with many specialties. The Minneapolis office of Perkins & Will specializes in designing schools of business.

Freedman said the task force tried to be very student sensitive, wanting to enhance the school’s programs and use the addition for the benefit of the whole campus since student orientation and the American College Test are administered in McCool Hall.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at mbj@msbusiness.com.

About Lynn Lofton

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