Construction Begins on Maryland School of Public Policy

By SCN Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Construction is not underway on the new School of Public Policy building at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Executive architect Leo A Daly was selected for this approximately $45 million project in 2016 after a competitive, multi-phased Design Excellence procurement process. This a Construction Management at Risk (CM&R) project with bids slated to go out next year.

“The new School of Public Policy is a highly-visible symbol of the University of Maryland’s dedication to serving the public good, not only in developing the policymakers of tomorrow, but in expanding the policy conversation to the greater university and the world beyond it,” said Irena Savakova, RIBA, principal in charge for the project with Leo A Daly. “This new building will have a transformative effect on the university, establishing a unique platform for collaboration and public discourse woven thoughtfully into the fabric of campus,”

Slated for completion in 2022, the four-story building will bring together the school’s 90-plus faculty members and more than 1,000 undergraduates and graduate students under one roof for the first time. It will also be the headquarters for the Do Good Institute, a campus-wide hub for social innovation, philanthropy and nonprofit leadership. Five state-of-the-art instructional spaces ranging in size from 25 to 150 seats, a library and a rooftop terrace are also included.

“The School of Public Policy is a home for those committed to serving the public good, and who go out and do good in the world every day,” said Robert C. Orr, dean of the School of Public Policy, in a statement.

According to the university’s 2019 enrollment report, 219 undergrads and 248 master’s students are currently enrolled in the school. During the last school year, 16 undergrads and 112 master’s students received a degree. The School of Public Policy has experienced steady growth since starting in 2017 while being housed at the Van Munching Hall, the home of the university’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Entrances on the east and west connect within a large, communal atrium have been designed to encourage chance meetings, informal study and interdepartmental collaboration. Academic space is tied together visually and programmatically, creating a series of adaptable, flexible learning environments. Do Good Plaza, a shared outdoor event space on the building’s east side, embraces the neighboring Purple Line station, establishing a welcoming new gateway into campus.

“This new building will accommodate the school’s rapid growth in students headed for public policy leadership in the national, international, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh, in a statement. “Along with its unique curriculum, research leadership, and proximity to the nation’s capital, this building will help propel the school to become one of the very best in the country.”

The architecture blends contemporary expressions of transparency and openness with materials and rhythmic elements found in the adjacent Georgian-inspired campus buildings. The building’s carefully sculpted massing frames views of two historic buildings—Rossborough Inn to the northeast and Memorial Chapel to the southwest.

The sustainably designed building is expected to achieve a LEED Gold rating, with biophilic design elements that will connect occupants to nature, reduce the building’s environmental footprint, and provide healthy and productive spaces for work and study.