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Baylor University Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation | Waco, Texas, USA | 2014-2015
Baylor University Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation Waco, Texas, USA | 2014-2015


Architects: Rick Archer, Overland Partners
Client: Baylor University
Photographers: Paul Bardagjy


The Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation negotiates the balance between honoring traditional values and social responsibility while being a nexus for innovation and future-thinking.

The building is organized around a central atrium that functions like a town center, connecting multiple programming components such as faculty offices, classrooms, and conference rooms.

It also serves as the link to the new conference center and auditorium. The atrium offers nooks, crannies, and perches for group work and individual study that provides every student a preferred learning environment.

Flexible classrooms and conference rooms offer modular furniture that can be reconfigured, tables that can become work benches, and open-format desk space, supporting a variety of teaching methods.

Clear circulation zones allow occupants to move quickly across and between levels of the building.

Notable sustainable aspects of the building include a durable and long-lasting structure and material palette, highly efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and a highly flexible building interior layout designed for optimal occupant usability now and throughout the building’s life.

The building is conceived to have a 100-year life span with the administrative and faculty spaces designed for flexibility as the Business School’s needs change over time.

Glazed partitions located in these areas provide daylight to interior spaces through both translucent and clear glass panels.

Services are designed to run above ceilings in corridors and convey MEP, Fire Protection, and IT systems throughout the building to provide easy serviceability and upgradeability as technologies change. Innovative strategies and technologies are integrated throughout the project to reduce materials, equipment size, and long-term energy costs.

The atrium, which is the central feature of the new Business building, integrates innovative solutions for daylight harvesting, reduces heating and cooling loads, and reduces air intake and exhaust requirements for code required smoke evacuation systems.

Mechanical systems include active chilled beams, under-floor air distribution in the auditorium, and variable-air-volume systems with economizer cycles used during favorable climate conditions.

Low wattage LED lighting fixtures complete with daylight dimming greatly reduce electric lighting loads and interior mechanical cooling. Water conserving plumbing fixtures reduce potable water use.

Additionally, the building envelope and infrastructure is designed to accommodate future vegetative roofs and solar photovoltaic panels.

Light scoops in the atrium roof provide diffuse daylight into the building core, with baffles angled to create optimal lighting as sun angles change throughout the day and year.

Controlled direct sunlight is integrated in areas to harness the biophilic principle of dynamic and diffuse light. Each level in the atrium gradually steps back to allow light to penetrate to lower levels. Glass stairs transmit light from the third to first floor.

Materials along vertical surfaces, such as light-colored wood, were selected to reflect light. Because a darker environment is needed due to use of digital screens, classrooms are located deeper in the interior. 

Site landscaping presented a number of opportunities for sustainable design. These include selecting paving materials that reduce heat island effect, providing native and adaptive plantings, and using low-wattage site lighting fixtures.

Existing trees were preserved in-place or relocated where appropriate. The project is LEED Gold certified.

Though the building has a larger footprint than the traditional buildings on campus, its scale is broken down by punctuating the facades with glass and pulling the roofline back at the fourth floor.

Recessed main building entries changes perception of a thickness of the building, allowing more programming to fit within the building.

The interior of the building reflects a light-filled 21st-century workplace while the exterior’s red brick facade and stone base reflect the university’s traditional neo-Georgian architecture, establishing cohesion within the campus through scale, materiality, and proportion.


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