According to Dana Brown, the Nicol Building in the heart of the Carleton University campus is a $ 65 million declaration to the world: the school is open for business.

That makes sense considering Brown is the dean of the Carleton Sprott School of Business and the Nicol Building is Sprott’s new home. But Brown sees the new structure, which officially opened for students and staff this week, as an invitation to the broader business community to finally raise awareness of an institution she says has flown under the radar.

“We’re almost like a diamond in the rough,” said Brown, who joined Carleton’s faculty two years ago after a 20-year career in business education that has taken her to more than 60 countries.

“We still have to be discovered a bit. This is one hell of a good business school. I want it to really thrive and the world to know about us. For me this building is something like: ‘We come into the world.’ “

Lead architect and Carleton alumnus Doron Meinhard’s team of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects toured several business schools in Canada and the United States before creating a curved design with stairs winding through open spaces to encourage students and their professors to freely gather and exchange ideas.

“We have created spaces in which the students can gather. We want the students to be no longer tied to the classroom while studying. “

Dana Brown – Dean of the Carleton Sprott School of Business

It’s a far cry from Sprott’s previous home in nearby Dunton Tower, where students and staff were scattered throughout the building in an atmosphere that added little to unity, says Brown.

The new building “conveys the feeling of ‘I am part of something, I am part of a community’”, she explains. “We have created spaces where students can meet. We want students no longer to be tied to the classroom while studying. We want them to learn and solve problems in the world. I think that’s really great. ”

The heart of the six-story, 100,000 square meter building is its innovation center. Located near the main entrance, the area includes a startup incubator and a meeting point for events such as hackathons and pitch fests.

The hub will be open to students of all disciplines with entrepreneurial dreams, says director Harry Sharma.

As an example, he cites the school’s plan to start a three-month program that connects journalism students and Sprott professors with the goal of incubating “the next”.

“When we talk about inclusivity, it’s not just the diversity of ventures that we create,” he says. “It’s also the diversity of students we serve – it’s students from all backgrounds and from all backgrounds who come into this room.”

Classroom with glass walls

Aside from the main lecture hall with 250 seats, most glass-walled classrooms are smaller rooms where students can gather at round tables in groups of five or six. Flat screens are ready to beam in distant learners and cameras are set up to track professors.

Brown says the school has tried to forge stronger partnerships with the Ottawa business community, and she hopes the Nicol building will help accelerate that effort. She envisions a place where founders, CEOs, city planners and other business leaders can meet and offer a real perspective that Sprott’s 2,700 students couldn’t get from a textbook.

“I don’t want (students) to study in the four walls of a classroom,” she says. “I want them to go to a small company and understand how they work, work with them and learn how to solve problems on the job. We really want to be on the cutting edge of education and create this really dynamic learning environment. “