Conceived as an ‘athenaeum for business scholars’, the three story, 68,000 square foot structure takes inspiration from its Tampa Bay setting and the indigenous coral stone that lines its shore. Like the stone, the building is a porous container with openings carved out of its volume that house various program elements and allow sunlight and landscaping to penetrate deep within the structure’s core. One of these openings is a Palm-lined courtyard with seating that supports learning at the building’s entrance. Other openings house a light-filled central commons and an adjacent scholar’s garden that support casual learning and encourage productive collisions to occur between students and faculty as they move through the building. The multi-story commons and scholar garden are spatially intermeshed and ringed with active programs spaces including a trading room, community room, break rooms and classrooms that connect the learner to his or her environment.
The most unique feature of the building is its glass façade that metaphorically recalls the openings in regional organic coquina or coral stone albeit in an abstract and hyperbolized manner. To achieve a three dimensional impression and depth of surface, such as one would find in coquina, the design team created an inventive composition of glazing units that make a flat glass surface appear to have depth and dimension. The composition is made of a ceramic fritted first pane that is double run with two tones of a circular pattern. The second pane is reflective one way mirror glass that allows view out but reflects the patterned ceramic coating of the first pane outward. The result is a glass surface that has a three dimensional quality or a shadowed depth that belies its constructive flatness. In addition, the glazing system is designed to resisted hurricane force winds and projectiles and reject Floridian heat gain.