Wayne State breaks ground on new business school

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A rendering of the new Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University shows a smart, open design to inspire learning and collaboration in a prime location on Woodward Avenue in The District Detroit.

As Detroit’s historic comeback and development boom continues, community members came together on Wednesday to break ground on the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University in The District Detroit. New renderings of the building, made possible by a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch, show a sleek, open and smart design that evokes energy, collaboration and innovation. The groundbreaking ceremony took place at the school’s future home on Woodward Avenue near the rapidly progressing Little Caesars Arena, where guests from across the city came together to celebrate a new era of business education in Detroit.

“The glass façade and design elements, such as the café and the indoor-outdoor spaces, make the Mike Ilitch School of Business both visually striking and inviting to the greater Detroit community,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “This new home for our business school will create a beautiful and accessible gateway connecting Midtown and downtown Detroit for students, faculty and the community alike. It’s a fitting and elegant design for a world-class business school made possible by entrepreneurs who throughout their career have been dedicated to opening up a world of opportunities for the people of Detroit.”

“Today's events represent the next important steps in bringing to life one of the most substantial demonstrations yet of my parents’ love for Detroit and its people, and their hope and belief in its future,” said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “The new Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business will shape tomorrow’s leaders for Detroit and beyond in an incredible new facility offering innovative programs, a signature location on Woodward Avenue and unmatched access to iconic Detroit companies.”

Detroit-based Christman-Brinker has been selected to be the Construction Manager for the new business school building. Detroit-based architectural firm Smith Group JJR led the development of the updated design for the new structure. The Detroit Downtown Development Authority earlier in the day approved a Master Development Agreement to move the project forward, with full construction expected to start later this year and the first students taking classes in 2018.

The selection of a Detroit-based construction manager and architect for this important project extend the ongoing Michigan Made, Detroit Built efforts taking place throughout The District Detroit. To date, more than $300 million in construction contracts have been awarded to Detroit businesses and more than $400 million to Michigan businesses as part of work on Little Caesars Arena and other projects throughout The District Detroit.

The Mike Ilitch School of Business will serve more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and provide flexible teaching, research, office and community spaces for students and faculty bringing WSU’s outstanding business programs closer to the market. The school will boast a competitive entrepreneurship track with coursework in areas including sports and entertainment management. Major structural elements of the new building will include:

• Open collaboration space

• Student support facilities

• Conference learning center

• Classrooms

• Lab space

• Faculty offices

The new business school will be highly integrated with its prominent position along Woodward Avenue, featuring a number of innovative street level, sidewalk uses including a full trading floor, an open air classroom, business incubator pop-up and corner café.

“Excitement about the new building and what it will mean for our curriculum is already generating positive results for our school,” said Robert Forsythe, dean of the Mike Ilitch School of Business. “We’ve already seen a boost in applications as a result of the gift announcement last fall, as prospective students recognize the opportunity that comes from studying in an innovative environment and location like this.”

Mike and Marian Ilitch announced a $40 million donation to Wayne State University in October of 2015. The gift is the largest in the history of the university and ranks as one of the top ten gifts ever to a public business school in the United States. The Ilitches’ gift is part of Wayne State’s $750 million Pivotal Moments fundraising campaign. It is a lead gift toward the construction of the new business school and the University will seek additional support from successful Mike Ilitch School of Business alumni and friends to complete the new facility as part of the Pivotal Moments campaign.

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