Case Study: Unanticipated space use raises the bar for facility flexibility

Case Study: Unanticipated space use raises the bar for facility flexibility

Campus spaces are being used by students and faculty in unanticipated ways, and building flexibility is being put to the test in meeting the evolving needs of colleges and universities today. Marquette University’s O’Brien Hall, home to the College of Business, Graduate School of Management, and innovation leadership programs, serves as a case study for campus facilities in navigating needs for surprising space use and striking a balance between purpose-built and long-life, loose-fit design for the future.  

This session the at Tradeline Inc. University Facilities 2024 Conference on May 7th in San Diego, CA, will explore goals, design, and outcomes for Marquette’s O’Brien Hall focused on three guiding topic areas of Relationship Building with the Campus Community, Human Experience, and Purpose-Built and Long-life, Loose-fit Design. The presentation will consider the following questions:

  • Can campus facilities welcome the community without compromising student needs?
  • How do facilities balance collaboration and heads-down space for researchers?
  • Can specialized spaces maintain flexibility?


BNIM Principal James Pfeiffer, along with Amanda Wirth Lorenzo, Principal at Buro Happold, and Lora Strigens, VP Planning and Facilities at Marquette University, will present this session on programming, design, and lessons-learned for how colleges and universities can prepare for emerging space requirements and reconcile competing campus needs.

Image courtesy - Marquette University


The new Dr. E.J. and Margaret O'Brien Hall energizes the Marquette University's campus community as a state-of-the-art and student-centric destination for learning and innovation. The 109,000 square foot, four-story facility is home to Marquette University's nationally ranked College of Business Administration programs, the Graduate School of Management, and Leadership programs. Immersed in daily activity at a highly visible corner of campus, the College of Business strengthens the university’s relationship with its surrounding community context and helps establish an important corridor to campus as a welcoming space for students, faculty, and visiting industry partners and mentors from the across the business community.  Inspired and guided by the vision to create a new facility to elevate business education, the new home to the College of Business creates a collaborative, engaging, and student-centered environment that empowers students on their academic journeys to becoming future business leaders within their fields.