Blending the physical with the virtual: Re-thinking the business school campus

POLIMI campus

Dean Federico Frattini, POLIMI Graduate School of Management, takes a closer look at the purpose of a business school campus. Here are his thoughts:

In recent years, the world has changed, and education has transformed as a result. This means that higher education communities require an environment where they can thrive by leveraging the opportunities offered by both physical presence and digital connections. This is why POLIMI Graduate School of Management has recently celebrated a new milestone: the inauguration of the new Navigli campus.

The Navigli district itself is based in the heart of Milan’s creative and cultural centre. Built-in partnership with Microsoft and IBM and launched this September, this campus is futuristic, innovative, and sustainable in design. This campus is a place where future business leaders can learn in a unique hub of innovation, creativity and purpose, and for the first time, it blends the hybrid and physical to create a truly immersive experience for POLIMI Graduate School of Management students and faculty.

In fact, ‘technological innovation’ and ‘Milan’ are the two key components that characterize the building. Technological innovation because students are allowed to live an immersive and cutting-edge classroom experience, and Milan because with this building, we wanted to give our students, especially international ones, the opportunity to fully experience all that a dynamic city like Milan has to offer.

On a practical level, the launch of the new campus was triggered by the school’s need to cater for growing numbers of students, managers and professionals who see POLIMI GSoM as a leading light for advanced training courses. This includes 40+ Master’s programmes, seven MBAs and Executive MBAs, plus 200 open programmes for executives and many training courses made to measure for companies.

So, the Navigli campus will provide much-needed space for students to study, work, and interact, as well as room for the school’s faculty and staff. The architecture of the new three-storey campus is both innovative and versatile, and the interior spaces have been designed as places that encourage people to meet and exchange ideas, and to bring a sense of collectiveness and purpose.

But where did this all begin? Well, the great process of change started in 2020, when the school began to embark on a path that has led us to launch a new strategic plan and to reflect on our purpose and our values. It is precisely from our vision, from our ambition, that the idea of this new campus is born. In fact, we work every day to become – as our vision states – the business school recognized worldwide as the most innovative and committed to building a responsible company. We are rooted in Milan but present everywhere.

Indeed, this campus is launched in line with our recent re-branding. This year, POLIMI GSoM changed its image with a new name and brand. Now, the previously MIP Politecnico di Milano brand has become POLIMI Graduate School of Management. The rebranding – led by Interbrand, a global leader in brand consulting – also stems from the desire to express and accelerate a broad path of change, as mentioned above. We believe that the path we have taken is not limited to a new logo and visual identity, but goes further, bringing with it a repositioning where our school stands out as a business school for the future.

In a context in which business schools are traditionally associated with career progress, maximising their students’ salaries and employment data, POLIMI Graduate School of Management aims to distinguish itself more and more through the quality of its education – which is already widely attested – and for its ability to convey a new message that speaks of a passion for innovation, as well as collaboration, respect and attention to the world around us.

So, this brings us to the design itself. When designing the campus, we asked ourselves, how can a business school support not only the professional but also the personal and relational growth of an individual? The answer is a hub, a thinking and pulsating laboratory full of stimuli and ideas, concrete projects and authentic relationships. A place where you get involved to reinvent the future – a better future for everyone. This relates to the social and environmental goals of the school. As a B-Corp certified business school, we have ensured this campus is as green as possible, and we have introduced elements that continue to raise awareness among students in terms of wellbeing and sustainability.

Digital is also fundamental at Navigli. The structure of the campus is unique, and the interactive nature of the classrooms meets the needs of students who are becoming increasingly aware of how digitalisation will be blended within the lives. As such, the campus has a predominant digital component, in line with our school’s strong focus on technological innovation. In fact, thanks also to classrooms designed with a view to spatial, technological and functional flexibility, students will have access to a distinctive learning experience, capable of eliminating distances and favouring “connections” between all participants. The student will increasingly experience a blended learning concept, characterized by physical and digital spaces that merge.

This campus reflects the on-going path we are on as a business school where we are encouraging our students to discover their higher purpose, to connect in new innovative ways, and to thrive in an environment built for the future.  ‘Make, Connect, and Ignite’ is our motto – a true manifesto for change which will inspire the POLIMI Graduate School of Management’s next strategic moves, aimed at consolidating its local impact and global growth.