The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Eli Gottlieb / Thornton Tomasetti.

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business



The $110 million Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is a 270,000 square foot terra cotta building that features a 24,000 square foot, three-story tall glass roofed Winter garden with exposed steel cruciform columns. The goal for the new building was to create an image that both unified the MBA/BBA Campus and communicated the culture of the school.

The spiral form structure which wraps around the glass roofed Winter garden resonates with the culture of the Ross School, as it is both embracing and open ended at the same time. The new facility contains 12 tiered, U-shaped discussion rooms, five classrooms, group study spaces, administrative and faculty offices, labs, library spaces, a gymnasium, social spaces and lounges, and a café. Thornton Tomasetti faced the challenge of rendering cost-efficient the large quantity of architecturally exposed structures that the design called for, one of the most expensive types of structures available. The building’s highly detailed and nonrepetitive structure also demanded an intense level of close coordination with the architect and mechanical engineer throughout construction.

In keeping with the school’s commitment to sustainable design, administrators plan to attain LEED Silver certification. The building works to maximize environmental sustainability and maximize natural light and ventilation while providing a wide view of the surroundings. Although the design incorporates all the conceived elements of the school’s program, it is also designed to maximize future flexibility for the growth and program changes that the school undertakes over time. The building opened in 2008, two months ahead of schedule.

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