University of Kansas Capitol Federal Hall
Lawrence, Kansas / United States of America
People believe that serendipity is about luck. About finding value in chance. But what if it's not? What if it can be manufactured? We think it can.
If the traditional model of faculty offices being intentionally isolated from learning space was upended, would collaboration take hold? If professors and students could always see each other, and were encouraged to interact with increasing frequency, would something magical take place? We think it would.
On many college campuses, faculty offices are, by design, remote from where learning actually takes place - often perched high above the students. But at the University of Kansas’ new 167,000 square-foot Business School, Capitol Federal Hall, faculty are on full-display of students, and students of faculty. Classrooms, incubators and financial laboratories occupy a single, linear volume, while faculty and administrative offices occupy a neighboring one. Between them, a four-story atrium with a dynamic and focal stair plays the crucible - the birthplace of innovation. The ground floor is split between two elevations and then stitched together by a separate, serpentine stair. This isn’t simply lip-service to the campus' notable topography, it literally marks the transition from the Kansas plains that typify the far reaches of the University to Mount Oread, atop which sits the campus' historical core, while also providing a crucial place for students to gather and observe.
The building’s architecture is a simultaneous nod to the University's rich architectural legacy and a bold charge toward its future. The building opens itself to Allen Fieldhouse, the cultural center of campus, and many of the key spaces within offer framed views of the hallowed arena. In negotiating the old and the new, the high and the low, the student and the teacher, Capitol Federal Hall doesn't just hope for the serendipitous. It creates it.