Re-imagine Marcus Commons Project Launches with help from Google

October 31, 2016


re-imagine-marcus-commonsInspiring. Evolutionary. Adaptive.Comfortable. Holistic. Efficient.

These are the words students used to describe the future Marcus Commons. Right now, unfortunately, students use words like “drab” and “boring” to describe the space.

More than 35 students gathered in Marcus Commons, located on the first floor of the Daniels College of Business, on Friday, Oct. 28, to provide feedback to master’s students in the Real Estate and Built Environment (REBE) program. The 16 REBE students are embarking on a first for Daniels and the University of Denver: They’ll design a space for future generations to come. It’s called Re-imagine Marcus Commons.

“This is a very big idea and I’m thrilled to have you all at the center stage driving it,” Dean Brent Chrite told the students. “This seems to me to be the very best of what a graduate management experience ought to be.”

Dean Chrite and Barb Jackson, director of the Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management, set the tone for the kick-off Oct. 28.

“Whatever we do here is a model for the rest of the campus,” Jackson said. “What if we thought of any and every space as a space designed to enable learning and engagement?”

Before gathering feedback from the Daniels community at large, the REBE students were able to hear from professionals who re-imagine space for a living. Dave Radcliffe (MBA 1993) is the vice president of Real Estate and Workplace Services for Google.

“What we do as corporate executives is create amazing environments that allow Googlers to thrive,” Radcliffe said. “What interests me about this opportunity is that it is a real life business problem. This is the kind of stuff I solve every day.”

He encouraged the REBE students to really listen to what the Daniels students had to say about the space. He explained that they should listen intently and not jump to conclusions.

His colleague Jim Laumann, campus architect with Google, then explained how they approach design at Google. Laumann, who has worked at Google for 11 years, said there are four areas critical to a workplace: focus, collaboration, learning and socialization.

“Design is not just the design of object. It’s the process involved in that,” Laumann said. “Having a good process and how to walk through things is very important.”

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Carson Erard and Dave Radcliffe

Laumann, Radcliffe and Carson Erard (MS RECM 2010), senior associate workplace strategy at CBRE, took the Burns students through the exercise of gathering input from the Daniels community.

“It was interesting to hear different opinions,” said Pete Levine, who will be competing on one of the REBE teams. “Some opinions conflicted with each other, but it was helpful for me to think about things and hear input of other people.”

Levine and the other REBE students will be divided into four teams, competing to develop the best concept to completely renovate the space. Once a design is chosen, a capital campaign to raise funds for the actual renovation will be implemented.

The Re-imagine Marcus Commons project addresses the Student Experience Core Priority of Daniels’ strategic plan, known as Daniels in Focus. In order to create a world-class student experience, Daniels needs world-class facilities.

Levine said he jumped at the chance to work on this project in order to do something tangible. He feels having a real-world application will make him more marketable. And that belief is at the heart of the challenge-driven methodology that pervades the Daniels curriculum.

 “There is not a program that hasn’t been overhauled more intentionally to provide challenge-driven education,” Dean Chrite said. “And, this is the ultimate challenge.”