Lehigh Celebrates Opening of Business Innovation Building

The new building is “all about learning” and designed to encourage a sense of community.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Christa Neu

Lehigh celebrated the completion of its new 74,000-square-foot Business Innovation Building Friday afternoon with a short ceremony and toast, followed by tours for the campus community.

In the Tauck Family Lobby, attendees stood shoulder-to-shoulder under high ceilings as Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82 and numerous other speakers reflected on the construction and importance of the building to the Lehigh community.

“We thought about the building requirements, the architectural drawings, but we always were thinking about flexibility and adaptability,” Phillips said. “Putting the students first drove the building. This building had to be all about learning.”

President Joseph J. Helble ’82 speaks in the Business Innovation Building

President Joseph J. Helble ’82 told those inside the Business Innovation Building on Friday that the new building will advance Lehigh’s strategic initiatives and enhance the university’s experiential learning efforts.

Located on East Packer Avenue diagonally across from the Rauch Business Center, the building, which the university has been actively planning since 2017, will accommodate 16 additional teaching spaces for both the College of Business’ undergraduate and graduate programs and is the new home of the Vistex Institute for Executive Education. It also houses an expanded Financial Services Lab, a Behavioral Research Lab and the Rauch Center for Business Communications.

Georgette Chapman Phillips

Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, said putting students first drove the development of the new Business Innovation Building.

Open space to encourage a sense of community, student study spaces, high-tech meeting rooms and classrooms were all designed to host student learning and faculty innovation for years to come, Phillips said. The classrooms, equipped with advanced camera and sound systems, are built to handle students on-site, remotely or a combination of both. Some classrooms feature movable, modular furniture, allowing students to regroup around each of four monitors in the room. Using their own devices, they can connect to the monitors and work as small independent teams.

A classroom in-the-round is unique with four LED arrays hanging above circular seating, giving everyone a chance to easily collaborate. It’s designed for the faculty member to be in the middle of the students, participating in the lesson, not necessarily leading it, according to Phillips. And the Center for Business Communication includes a one-touch video recording studio, a larger television studio, coaching rooms and mock interview rooms.

Helble, who was introduced by Kim Rogoff ’94, chair of the College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and head of global financial planning and analysis for The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., said the new building will advance Lehigh’s strategic initiatives and enhance the university’s experiential learning efforts.

Glass walls on the first floor of the Business Innovation Building

Glass walls on the first floor allow for floor-to-ceiling views.

“It provides space for the College of Business to experiment with the new, to build on that pioneering effort in interdisciplinary collaboration with engineering and expand the reach of the business school at Lehigh and expand the reach of Lehigh itself,” Helble said. “Through our year-long strategic planning process, Lehigh has identified both a need and an opportunity to be even more interdisciplinary, to enhance our student's education and prepare them for the world. And I see the work of the College of Business as core to this effort.”

McKay Price, Perella Department of Finance, Collins-Goodman Chair in Real Estate Finance and director of the Goodman Center for Real Estate, also acknowledged the impact the building will have in aiding collaboration on campus.

McKay Price speaks to attendees at the open house

McKay Price, Perella Department of Finance, Collins-Goodman Chair in Real Estate Finance and director of the Goodman Center for Real Estate, said the Business Innovation Building was special because it was "designed with collaboration in mind."

“What makes this facility so special is that it was designed with collaboration in mind,” Price said. “It is a place where faculty and students can come together, exchange ideas and push each other to be more creative and innovative. This type of collaborative learning is essential for preparing students for life after Lehigh, where they will need to work across different fields and disciplines to solve complex problems.”

Vincent Forlenza, chair of the Board of Trustees, and Nathan Urban, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, also spoke. Forlenza reflected on his personal experiences and the challenges that businesses face and said Lehigh and the Business Innovation Building are about “creating leaders that can build the future.” Urban said the new building, in addition to greater flexibility for collaborating and gathering, provides enhanced opportunities for teaching, research and entrepreneurial activity.

The open house was held on the first floor in the building’s lobby, which has a granite floor, high ceilings and glass walls that allow floor-to-ceiling views of the outdoors as well as other rooms in the building. Dolce, a student acapella group, kicked off the festivities.

Part of the open house was dedicated to a new initiative honoring past and present Lehigh alumni who contribute to the business world, the Lehigh Business LUminaries.

A 13-and-a-half-foot-long video wall

A 13-and-a-half-foot-long video wall in the Tauck Family Lobby contains biographies and photo galleries of the Lehigh Business LUminaries.

The first class of inductees was made up of 12 members and in memoriam of those who have passed away. Eleven alumni, including Lee Iacocca ’45, CEO of Chrysler, and Dexter Baker ’51, CEO of Air Products, were honored in addition to Lehigh’s founder, Asa Packer. The LUminaries are enshrined on a 13-and-a-half-foot-long video wall, which contains biographies and photo galleries. Friends and family of those honored were in attendance.

Rob Gerth contributed to this story.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Christa Neu

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