An innovative training ground inspires new minds in business

Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA

The Business Instructional Facility is a dynamic home of learning for undergraduate and post-graduate business students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Surrounding an inviting garden courtyard, the facility welcomes students and faculty to a light-filled four-story atrium known as the Commons, two classroom wings, and a limestone-clad auditorium pavilion. This state-of-the-art facility celebrates the traditional architecture of the campus, while looking ahead to a bright future for the next generation of international business leaders.

The two classroom wings are clad in brick with arrays of high-performance operable windows, scaled and proportioned to the University’s Georgian Revival buildings from the 1920s.
“The Business Instructional Facility is a dream given form that draws people from around campus and the state of Illinois. It reflects our many ongoing initiatives toward improving education and society.” — Larry DeBrock Dean Emeritus, School of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

At the forefront of sustainable campus design

The first building in business education to attain LEED Platinum at a public university, the Business Instructional Facility is a major sustainability advancement in the University of Illinois system. The facility includes two green roof areas that reduce water run-off and keep the rooftop cool, a photovoltaic array on the auditorium’s roof to help power the building, high-efficiency air handling, and a high-performance building envelope. The building receives filtered, humidity-controlled air at an ambient temperature year-round.

In the classroom wings, clerestory windows provide additional daylight and casement windows facilitate natural ventilation.
In the auditorium, eye-level windows frame connecting views outside.
“Some of the environmental qualities of how daylight was shaped and captured became part of the architectural language in the way that campus’s historical precedents were melded together into a new expression.” — Craig Copeland, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Exchanging ideas at the center of it all

At the heart of the Business Instructional Facility is the Commons — a sweeping collaborative space filled with sunlight that invites students and faculty to gather and linger amid the daily bustle of classes. Surrounding the Commons, students work together in eighteen classrooms designed for both lectures and seminars, a trading lab for hands-on learning, numerous breakout rooms for collaborative projects, a 300-seat auditorium, and indoor and outdoor gathering spaces unlike any elsewhere on campus.

Four levels of windows, end-grain oak flooring, sustainable oak-paneled walls and slatted ceilings give the Commons a warm, inviting glow.
Throughout the building, glass is strategically placed, giving the perception of greater openness and transparency.
“We drew on the rich traditions of great reading rooms and libraries to create a warm, inviting space that brings people together to connect and learn from one and other.” — Rafael Pelli, FAIA, LEED AP

More About the Project

Project Team

Project Collaborators

  • Architect of Record: PSA Dewberry Architects
  • Structural Engineer: PSA Dewberry Architects
  • Landscape Architect: Wolff Landscape Architecture
  • Environmental Design: Atelier Ten

Project Information

  • Location: Urbana-Champaign, IL
  • Client: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Size: 164,300 sq. ft. / 15,264 sq. m.
  • Height: 74 ft. / 23 m.
  • Completion: 2008
  • Certifications: LEED Platinum
  • Firm Role: Design Architect


  • 2008, Midwest Construction's Best of 2008 Awards (McGraw-Hill Construction) - Project of the Year
  • Project Photography: Jeff Goldberg/ESTO