The new 254,000 square foot University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business by Rafael Viñoly Architects is new state-of-the-art LEED Platinum pending facility that hosts a community of over 5,000 students, faculty, and staff. The building also acts as a gateway to downtown Columbia's mixed-use Innovista district, an incubator for new economic development.
The new building appears to grow naturally out of its surrounding: the adjacent Carolina Coliseum is reflected in the design's fundamental massing. A colonnade echoes the rhythm of the Coliseum's and supports the building's fourth floor. This band of faculty offices aligns with the Coliseum's roof while lower floors are pulled away from the street. The copper façade will slowly change color. The building layout recalls southern courtyard architecture; its four sides encircle a 'Palmetto Court' which features Sabal Palmettos, South Carolina's state tree. Two grand staircases lead from the courtyard to the upper levels. A green rooftop terrace, the Palmetto Court, and other terraced areas promote interaction and collaboration among faculty, students, and community members.
The building design takes advantage of the sloped site; the top floor frames magnificent views of the Congaree River. Underneath, levels wrap around the courtyard with each floor plate massed slightly differently according to programmatic needs. Passive self-shading of the building façades generates energy savings. In addition to School of Business lectures, a 500-seat auditorium can accommodate public performance and large campus gatherings for the university. The building program stimulates learning through the most up-to-date means of technology, including stock market ticker boards and classrooms equipped with tele-presence technology.
Through these active spaces and its multiple points of pedestrian access, the new Darla Moore School of Business is designed to contribute to the district's revitalization by attracting a large amount of students and visitors on a daily basis.