Submitted/Edwards Campus

This artist's rendering shows what the new BEST Building, foreground, at the Edwards Campus will look like. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held April 21.

Edwards Campus to break ground April 21 on BEST Building

Facility to open in November 2011

The Edwards Campus is expanding its footprint in more ways than one.

The university community is invited to a formal groundbreaking April 21 that will initiate construction of a 75,000-square-foot, $25 million building for Business, Engineering, Science and Technology, or BEST, programs.

The project consists of a classroom component, a business conference center and a laboratory/faculty office component, which will enable Edwards Campus enrollment to grow by 1,000 students. The building is scheduled to be completed in November 2011.


The size and state-of-the-art design of the BEST Building —which will be built to meet LEED energy efficiency standards — will demonstrate the commitment by KU to Johnson County. Far more significant, however, is the teaching and learning that will take place inside and its impact on the community.

The new building will be home to 10 new undergraduate and graduate programs to be introduced on the Edwards Campus over the next several years, all of them in the four BEST categories.

From left: Stephanie Mountain, KU Edwards Campus MBA student; Dick Bond, chairman, KU Edwards Campus Board of Advisors; Ed Eilert, chairman, Triangle Authority Board; Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, University of Kansas; Bob Clark, vice chancellor, KU Edwards Campus; Mayor Carl Gerlach, City of Overland Park; Susan Edwards Miller, KU alumna and supporter; Hossein Saiedian, KU School of Engineering, Professor/Assoc. Chair, Electrical Engr & Comp Science, all take part in the groundbreaking ceremony.

“The size, scope and flexible design of the building – and the university’s commitment to offering high-value degree programs here – ensure the Edwards Campus will become an even more valued contributor to the economic growth and development of Johnson County,” said Bob Clark, vice chancellor.

Triangles and Architecture

Funding for the building and the new BEST degree programs come from the Johnson County Education and Research Triangle initiative, which voters approved in 2008. “The Triangle” is designed to solidify and expand the county’s leadership position as an economic development engine in the region.

To help ensure the facility will attract top-tier students and meet the needs of KU faculty, architects met with faculty representatives as plans were drawn up.

Gregory Freix, lecturer in information systems for the School of Business, was one faculty member deeply involved in the process.

“Different faculty have different teaching styles, different disciplines have different teaching styles, and we wanted the configurations of the classrooms to support those differences,” Freix said.

For example, several of the tiered classrooms have extra-wide tier platforms, which give students an opportunity to spin their chairs around and do team exercises and breakouts. Flat-mode classrooms emphasize the ability to reconfigure tables and chairs, with electrical grids set up across the floor to allow laptop plug-ins in a variety of configurations.

Freix said some classrooms were even designed to accommodate the lifestyles of the high percentage of adult learners enrolled at the Edwards Campus. Side and rear entrances allow students arriving late to enter with a minimum of distraction.

“Working adults can’t always show up on time,” Freix said. “When the boss says to stay late, you stay late.”


• The BEST building will include:

• two 15-seat seminar rooms

• two 40-seat classrooms

• eight 45-seat classrooms

• four 65-seat tiered lecture halls

• one 100-seat tiered lecture hall

• 36 faculty and administrative support offices

• five computer labs

• one 250-seat conference center

• Parking will be increased to accommodate a larger student population

• Edwards Campus faculty and students will have access to internal and external electronic communication throughout the building. Video conferencing, recording of classes and shared resources will be readily available.

• The conference center will allow the campus to host symposiums and conferences as well as be available to the community for business and cultural programs.

Campus closeup
Lynn S. Villafurerte, program coordinator, Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program and Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity
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