For the new home of its executive education and part-time MBA programs, the Cass Business School had to meet two goals: support academic activity, and provide an atmosphere familiar to working executives.

The school, an affiliate of City, University of London, appointed NBBJ for a two-stage commission to advise on the selection of, and then fit out, premises near its Bunhill Row campus. The first stage evaluated several potential sites using space-planning “test fits,” a building services engineering appraisal, a cost estimation, and an assessment of nearby public facilities — shops, restaurants, transit, fitness centers and so on — to choose the most suitable site.

The fit-out of the chosen location — leased space within a nearby commercial building — created a “classroom in the workplace,” an environment where students can meet, work, relax or eat. The teaching facilities support more than 160 students, and the reconfigurable lounge can provide seated dining for 150, or a drinks reception for 300 guests.

An executive ambiance is created by the selection and judicious use of high-quality materials, such as crown-cut walnut veneer, sculptured wall panels and bespoke joinery. The colors used for carpets and feature walls were selected from the university’s “heritage” palette, providing a visual link with the main campus, with lighting that provides a contrast between light and shade, adding drama to the large open lounge.