Second phase of Business-school complex begins with Balmer demolition


Jim Jiambalvo, dean of the business school, stands in front of PACCAR Hall, the replacement for Balmer Hall.


PACCAR Hall is due to replace Balmer Hall, which Jim Jiambalvo announced last week will be torn down over this summer.

As PACCAR Hall nears completion, the Foster School of Business announced last week that its current building, Balmer Hall, will be torn down late this summer and replaced with a new building.

The dean of the school, Jim Jiambalvo, told faculty and staff that the state Legislature approved the measure to continue the second phase of construction for the business program’s new building next to Denny Hall.

“It’s important to have a building that’s at the same quality level of the faculty, staff and students,” Jiambalvo said. “Before, we had great staff, students and faculty, but arguably one of the worst buildings on campus. … Having new buildings is a game changer for education,” he said.

Balmer will be torn down incrementally over about two months, said Pete Dukes, chair of the Foster building committee. He hopes that the demolition will be complete before students return for fall quarter.

“Before we made this decision, we asked ‘Can we renovate this enough to meet our needs?’ and we couldn’t,” Dukes said of demolishing Balmer. “To be the school we wanted to be, we needed new facilities.”

Both buildings in the complex will have new classroom layouts designed to cater to student learning and professors, with U-shaped layouts and tiered seating.

“[With the new layout], even in a larger classroom people can be more involved,” Jiambalvo said. “As an instructor, I feel like I could work that auditorium.”

The second addition will cost $42.8 million to complete, compared to the $95 million needed for PACCAR Hall. However, while PACCAR’s building costs were privately funded, the new building will utilize money from student building fees. The school is searching for a donor to name the building.

“This is a smaller building, but it was always envisioned as a public-private partnership,” Jiambalvo said. “We placed some things in the first phase and others in the second that, if we thought we were going to have one building, we would have reconfigured the plans.”

One of the key things Jiambalvo sees in the second building is a career center for undergraduates and MBAs, which he said is important for major business schools.

The center will serve as a recruiting center for students seeking information about the job market post-graduation.

In addition, the second phase will include more classrooms, offices, and up to 30 break-out rooms for students to work on projects and have study sessions. Each room will have a conference table for six to eight students, and technology to aid with multimedia presentations.

“We needed a different kind of classroom, a different configuration,” Dukes said. “The old rooms didn’t meet the needs of teaching and providing education we need today.”

PACCAR Hall is scheduled to open this year, and the 18-month construction process of the new building is expected to begin this fall.

Reach reporter Nick Visser at news@dailyuw.com.

Please read our Comment policy.