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Rafael Viñoly Architects is proud to announce that the University South Carolina celebrated the “Topping Out” of the new building for the Darla Moore School of Business in a ceremony today held at the construction site.

The Darla Moore School of Business, globally renowned for its international business program, has until now been housed in a 1970s-era building located near the university’s historic Horseshoe, site of the original campus established in 1801. The new building—designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects and commissioned by alumna and namesake Darla Moore through a $70 million donation—will provide an environment well suited to answer the challenges of a 21st century business school.

Located on a site near the Congaree River, the new design aligns with the university’s drive for sustainable innovation, forming a natural gateway into Columbia’s recently completed Innovista Master Plan—a sustainable work and living community. The new facility will house the school’s ambitious range of academic programs and showcase its commitment to sustainable enterprise and development. The building, which is currently tracking to achieve LEED Platinum Certifica
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tion, boasts an efficient circulation scheme, offering more shared and dedicated spaces, and more flexible and adaptable learning environments.

Inspired by the concept of the State tree, the Sabal Palmetto, the new building is conceived as a natural structure that appears to grow naturally out of the ground and at its heart encircles a “Palmetto Court.” Through its transparent active spaces, which animate each of the four sides of the building, and through its multiple points of entry encouraging pedestrian circulation and access, it is designed to contribute to the district’s revitalization by attracting a large new population on a daily basis. Approximately 4,500 undergraduate students, 1,000 graduate students and over 300 faculty and staff, along with community members and the school’s strategic partners, will lend vitality to the neighborhood.

The building design takes advantage of the steeply sloped site, with auditoria, classrooms and other spaces requiring limited natural light located in the base plinth. Upper levels wrap around a courtyard with each floor plate extending out in different dimensions according to programmatic needs and capture opportunities for energy savings through self-shading of building facades. The design also embraces Columbia’s multifaceted community with the inclusion of a 500-seat auditorium that will serve both the Moore School and USC’s School of Music for a variety of needs including musical performances that are open to the general public.

The building program effectively supports the school’s curriculum and stimulates learning through the most up-to-date means of technology, including a trading room with stock market ticker boards and classrooms equipped with tele-presence technology. The building also features a green rooftop terrace, which coupled with the Palmetto Court and Level 2 perimeter terraces areas, work to promote interaction and collaboration between faculty, students and community members.

The building is designed to receive LEED-Platinum certification, and the project team is collaborating with the Department of Energy to achieve a Net-Zero rating in addition, possibly making The Darla Moore School of Business the most energy efficient building in the state.
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