The Robins School of Business
The Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond is a Collegiate Gothic building that follows the architectural tradition of the rest of the school. The original construction was completed on November 4, 1961, designed by the architectural firm, Carneal and Johnston. The construction of a business school was much needed because at the time, the University of Richmond was using temporary V-12 barracks to hold business classes. The University awarded a contract of $600,000 to construct the building following a $250,000 gift from L.U. Noland. The building was originally made for 300 students with classrooms, offices, lounges and a lecture room. The structure was L-shaped and made of red brick with white limestone boarders around doorways and windows. The main entrance faced west, the interior of campus. It was a double wooden door under a limestone pointed arch. The front face of the building was rather rectangular with a flat roof. On either side the building had front gabled roofs with dormer windows amongst the black shingles. On the south side, the building has a chimney and four casement windows. In 1979, it was announced the business school had been named in honor of E. Claiborne Robins.
The first renovation was completed in 1984, which cost $3 million and added 15,000 square feet. This renovation was mostly an addition to the backside of the building, incorporating more classrooms, offices and more. Some unique design aspects are apparent in this addition, including a granite pillar that comprises part of a pointed arch on it’s east side. This is a more modernist take on the collegiate gothic architecture, which is reminiscent of the time period of this renovation.
Another renovation project was begun in 1998. This one, however, did not include any additions. This project was solely for improving the learning environment of the business school, such as updating technology and expanding classrooms. The University of Richmond sent 12 members of the planning committee to some of the nations top business schools to use as examples for this renovation. In its completion, the renovation resulted in a new entrance, improved technology, more classroom space and a new computer lab. This renovation was done in stages to keep the building accessible and was ultimately completed in 1999.
In the mid 2000’s, another very significant addition was planned, totaling in another 33,000 square feet added to the building and expected to be completed in 2007. The plans included even more faculty offices, classrooms, computer labs, an auditorium and a finance lab. Also, after hearing input from students, the University planned to add some sort of food service in the building as well. In the initial planning stages, this project was predicted to cost around $11 million, with the board estimating they would need 35% of the funds to begin the project. After re-evaluation, the estimations climbed to $13.3 million, then ultimately $16.8 million. The board was counting on donations to fund the project, which they ultimately received, although a little later then they had hoped. A $500,000 gift from Richard and Susan Harrison was given to Richmond conditional that it be spent on improving the building environmental sustainability. Paul B. and Anne-Marie Flinn Queally gave the most substantial gift in 2007 of $6 million. This was finally enough money to get the construction underway, which was eventually finished in 2010 and subsequently named “Queally Hall”. One of the most unique aspects of this addition was a new main entrance built on the east side of the building. This entrance is a round Norman tower with two wooden double doors under a pointed arch bordered with white limestone and above it, the schools checkered patterned insignia amongst the brick. This was a significant change from the old entrance not only because it faces out relative to the rest of campus, but also it is also a lot less modest.
Despite the changes to the business school building coming quite sporadically, the finish product flows quite seamlessly. All of the projects proved to be very successful in achieving their goals. The entrance is now much more grand and inviting since it now faces the road, which is crucial for attracting potential students. The technology is impressive and useful, and now up to par with business schools across the country. The new auditorium and food service, Lou’s, complete the building at the end of Queally Hall. Even unintentional new features such as an exposed brick wall down the main hallway add a unique feel to the building. It is now fair to say this is a top-notch building suit for a top-notch business school.