Rawls College of Business Celebrates Completion of New Building

In West Texas, the best parts of a story always seem to happen around high noon.

Today was no different as students, faculty, staff and supporters gathered at midday on the Texas Tech University campus to mark the end of a three year project and the completion of a new building for the Rawls College of Business.

Texas Tech University System officials cut the ceremonial red ribbon at the college’s new home at Flint Avenue near Ninth Street, which is located west of Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park. The new location anchors the entrance to campus from the Marsha Sharp Freeway, which campus planners refer to as the north campus gateway.

“This is a spectacular building,” said Kent Hance, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. “We’re on the cutting-edge of facilities, and also top students and top faculty.”

To make way for new building, Thompson and Gaston Halls were demolished in the fall of 2008, and construction crews broke ground for the new building in September 2009. Officials estimate that the new building has been completed nearly $6 million under it’s original $70 million budget.

Funds for the new building were raised through a combined effort of private contributions to Vision & Tradition: The Campaign for Texas Tech and student support.

“I’d like to thank all of you who donated,” said Jerry S. Rawls, executive chairman of Finisar Corporation and co-chairman of the Vision & Tradition campaign. “When you walk around today and see what the result is, you’re going to be proud.”

The Rawls College of Business was named for Rawls in 2000 to recognize a $25 million gift to the college.

The 145,000 square foot building features a tan brick and carved limestone exterior capped off by a Spanish tile roof, design elements that have become part of the signature architecture of the Texas Tech University campus. Inside, the building’s use of natural light, gives the offices, hallways and classrooms an open and modern feeling.

Highlighting a campus-wide commitment to sustainability, the new facility will be the first building on campus to apply for LEED certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

Created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED is a points-based system that recognizes projects that satisfy criteria across six categories: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovation in design.

Texas Tech is currently finalizing its application for LEED Silver certification and plans to submit the paperwork to the USGBC by the end of 2011. The entire project has been designed from inception to maximize efficiency.

Green design features begin at the curb, where premium parking spaces have been reserved for drivers of low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles. Bicycle paths and racks have also been installed on site, and the building is located along the campus bus route to further encourage use of public transportation.

Water conservation is also a priority, with drought-tolerant landscaping designed to minimize irrigation needs and control storm water runoff from the building’s roof and sidewalks. Restrooms include waterless urinals and low flow toilets that conserve indoor water use.

Recycled materials are used in the terrazzo marble floor in the building’s atrium, carpet tiles throughout the building and in the sinks and countertops installed in restrooms. Collection bins for recyclable materials such as paper, plastic and glass are also installed throughout the building.

The building also heralds a new way of thinking about technology on campus, with one of it’s most remarkable features being the one thing designers left out.

Instead of including dedicated computer labs, college administrators designed the entire building as a technology-friendly environment. A combination of wired and wireless technologies allow students and faculty to learn, research and share anywhere from a first-floor classroom to the outdoor courtyard.

“One of the really exciting things about this building is that it makes learning more efficient and enjoyable and it makes teaching more efficient and enjoyable,” said Rawls.

Classrooms in the new building are equipped for distance learning with built in video broadcasting capabilities. Faculty will be able to record and post lectures online right from the lectern.

A bevy of digital display technologies are also scattered throughout the space, enhancing marker boards in the classroom and equipping study rooms and meeting spaces with LCD screens for study sessions and project collaboration. The crown jewel is a 10 by 16 foot display made up of 108 LCD tiles capable of displaying up to 9 images simultaneously.

The grand opening of the building will be celebrated with a series of events scheduled after the university resumes classes in January 2012.

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