Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management
KPMB Architects

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Designed to transform

The dramatic, sweeping curves of the new Global Hub at Kellogg School of Management are just the opening design note of this important building’s graceful presence. The massive 38,553 square metres structure stands on Northwestern’s campus on the shore of Lake Michigan, a building that will surely add to the already-impressive legacy of its designers, KPMB. This five-story, LEED Platinum facility featuring a pair of atriums and an intentionally flexible design scheme was “Inspired by the School’s vision to rehabilitate business as a constructive and positive force for the benefit of humanity,” according to KPMB.


Venerable newspaper The Chicago Tribune described it as a “carefully wrought, spatially complex design that promises to teach future executives valuable lessons about collaboration, boldness and flexibility.” If the space itself can help inspire these lessons, then the architects surely hit the mark with flexible spaces for learning and collaboration at every scale, with rooms for 2 to 20, to 200 to 2000.







"The best thing you can do for classrooms that you want to be reconfigurable is to have a raised floor."


Raised flooring

One key to the building’s remarkable adaptability is the raised flooring KPMB installed for classroom spaces. This moveable design feat might normally have a carpeted or wood finish, but these floors feature the elegant lines of Mosa’s Terra Tones porcelain planking, in a custom installation that took years to design, engineer, customize and test. KPMB’s team told Mosa that “The best thing you can do for classrooms that you want to be reconfigurable is to have a raised floor.” They cite benefits including displacement ventilation from the floor that puts oxygen where you need it, better comfort, and accessible pathways for electrical and IT cables that can be readily changed with the needs of the room. For a Business School the ability to transform a room from business case-style teaching to a flat floor or another shape has tremendous value.






"The Global Hub makes a powerful cultural and architectural statement through its innovative design and exemplary sustainability."


Plank shaped porcelain

The client brief for the building included flexible spaces, durable, high-quality finishes, comfortable conditions for users and great energy performance. What made Mosa right for the project, especially the raised floors, was the available selection of sizes to work with the floor module, according to the architects, as well as the need for the material to be very consistent in size. It was the first time a plank shaped porcelain has ever been used in a raised-floor setting, ranging in size 5x60 centimeters to 15x60 centimeters. Mosa worked with KPMB and specialty engineering firm Tate ASP Access Floors Inc, which tested the Mosa porcelain samples slated for the space for more than a year before the final order was placed. Mosa also added a micro-bevel to the edges of the tiles, creating a smooth transition to the frames of the steel trays. Another factor in product choice, Mosa was the first to produce Cradle to Cradle certified porcelain tiles, a consideration for KPMB’s rigorous sustainability requirements.


Cultural and architectural statement

The Kellogg School Global Hub’s two atriums, one for students and the other for faculty, also feature Mosa’s Terra Tones Collection, equating to more than 9,290 square metres of Mosa used throughout the building. These two airy spaces are among the architects’ favorite features of the building. The ground floor atrium unifies the main public teaching floors for school gatherings, while the faculty level atrium coalesces the various departmental spaces with a beautiful environment for group gatherings, faculty meetings and seminars.

The Global Hub makes a powerful cultural and architectural statement through its innovative design and exemplary sustainability. It also offers a space for some of the world’s top educators to inspire the next generation of business leaders.


Project details
Project: Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management
Architect: KPMB Architects
Location: Evanston (Illinois, United States)
Completion: 2016
Mosa series: Core Collection Terra, Terra Tones
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