University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides hopes the school’s new $106.5 million glass-encased Darla Moore School of Business will become a visitor attraction.
“I feel absolutely confident that this building here will become a destination point ... for many travelers and tourists who will be driving around the Southeast,” Pastides said at a ceremony Monday. “(They) will see here in Columbia, S.C, a signature building for the state and the United States.”
USC held a “topping off” ceremony Monday for the new business school, signifying the start of interior construction for the ultra-“green” building, at the corner of Assembly and Greene streets next to the Carolina Coliseum in downtown Columbia.
The five-story building should be finished on time, by December, and start hosting classes in the spring 2014 semester.
The building will have more than four football fields of glass that will make the structure energy efficient. USC is seeking the building industry’s highest energy-saving rating for the structure and aims to make the 252,000-square-foot complex the nation’s largest building that saves as much energy as it consumes.
Moore – a Lake City financier and USC’s largest benefactor, having made $70 million in gifts and pledges to the school – attended the ceremony but did not speak at the gathering or talk to reporters.
Along with others, Moore laughed when “2001” – a theme song at Gamecock athletics events – started blaring as a white 28-foot beam, which she and others had signed, was raised by a crane to the building’s top floor.
USC trustee chairman Gene Warr, a business school graduate, praised former USC trustee Moore for paving a new path for the school.
“She wanted us to understand and believe that the University South Carolina could compete at a high level and that the state of South Carolina could compete at a high level,” Warr said at the ceremony. “Darla proved you could be from here and go out into a tough world and compete successfully.”
The new building aims to add the flexibility that students want, which will be necessary since the site will not have more classroom space than the current business school at the Close-Hipp Building on the east side of USC’s campus, business school dean Hildy Teegen said.
The school hopes to grow from its current 5,000 students by adding online courses, summer semester classes and scheduling more classes at nights and weekends, she said.
Students will be able to gather in common areas, including a second-floor open court with Palmetto trees and a trading floor. Classrooms also can be converted for various business-related projects.
In addition, more than 300 faculty members will be on the same floor, and a 500-seat auditorium can be used for classes or concerts.
The new Moore School building “allows us to bring in the young minds, faculty and other people necessary to have a top-flight school,” Warr said.