05 Jun 2014

Harvard Business School to Create New Convening Center

Seeks to convene key voices to discuss and address critical issues

BOSTON—Harvard Business School (HBS) today announced that it would build a significant new structure on the School’s Boston campus, where HBS can harness the energy and creativity of the thousands of students, faculty, alumni, and leaders of all kinds who convene there each year. Expected to open in 2018, the facility will combine the elements of a large-scale conference center, a performance space, and an intimate community forum. The new building will be named Klarman Hall in recognition of a generous gift from Seth and Beth Klarman. Seth Klarman (MBA 1982) is president and CEO of The Baupost Group, a Boston-based investment management firm. His wife, Beth Klarman, is president of the Klarman Family Foundation. Both are also members of the Business School’s Board of Dean’s Advisors.

In discussing their inspiration for the gift, Mr. Klarman noted that Harvard Business School has a unique capacity to contribute to the public dialogue about effective and responsible management. “When you bring people with talent, vision, and ambition together in a space designed specifically to facilitate connections, conversation, and debate, the potential for transformative ideas and action is limitless,” said Mr. Klarman. “Beth and I believe game-changing innovations will emerge from this space. HBS has played an important and ongoing role in my life and it’s a privilege to able to give back to a school that has given us so much.”

“Harvard Business School was transformative for Seth,” added Mrs. Klarman. “He is truly one of the school’s success stories - not just in his business success, but in the way he lives his life. Giving back has always been important to both of us and we hope the new convening center will be a place to develop and share ideas that have a meaningful and positive impact.”

Harvard Business School hosts some 700 events a year ranging in nature from research conferences to symposia to cultural events. Tens of thousands participate. Its residential campus is a place where learning happens not just in the classroom but also over meals, in the hallways, and in common areas throughout the campus. As the School’s renowned case method of discussion-based learning demonstrates, HBS is a place where frank conversations can lead to consensus and ultimately, action.

Noted HBS Dean Nitin Nohria, “With this wonderful gift, the Klarmans enable us to bring together leaders—in academia, in business, and in policy—in a world-class way to spur not just dialogue but action. We know that if we can create a gathering place of high functionality and high purpose, and if we leverage our convening power within that space, we can significantly affect the public debate about issues that are of the greatest importance to people at this School, in this country, and around the globe. All this is in keeping with Harvard Business School’s mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world.”

"Through their efforts in business, their engagement in their community, and their involvement in philanthropy and charitable work, Beth and Seth Klarman have set the highest possible standard for those who want to dedicate their resources, as they have stated, to 'the service of society's greatest challenges,'" said Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust. "Their generosity will make lasting marks at Harvard and beyond. We are grateful to them for this magnificent gift and for what it will do to enhance the educational experiences of future generations of students, faculty, and leaders who will gather at Harvard Business School to exchange ideas and have an impact on scholarship and society."

To be located next to the Spangler Center at HBS, Klarman Hall will be designed by Boston-based William Rawn and Associates, architects of the recently opened Tata Hall, as a vibrant space with an eye toward flexibility, adaptability, and accessibility. “Given the wide range of events and gatherings that will take place in Klarman Hall, it’s imperative that the space be able to support, complement, and facilitate activities both big and small,” said Rawn. “We are drawing inspiration and insight from places that feature the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders, and performers and trying to bring those elements together in one place. At this point, “he continued, “we know that the new facility will almost certainly combine an outstanding core auditorium with smaller breakout spaces of appropriate quantity and quality. Given the speed of change, the structure will certainly be designed to accommodate technologies that haven’t even been imagined yet. My colleagues and I are all honored and excited to be a part of this important project.”

Klarman Hall will feature:

  • State-of-the-art technology enabling connections with scholars and thought leaders around the world;
  • Stage and backstage capacity, acoustics, and equipment for spoken-word events, films, and cultural events;
  • A multipurpose foyer; and
  • Pre-function reception space.

HBS has established LEED Gold as the campus standard and currently has seven-LEED certified buildings on campus.

The gift from the Seth and Beth Klarman is part of the Harvard Business School’s recently launched Capital Campaign to raise $1 billion over the next five years. The School has raised more than $600 million in gifts and pledges during the campaign’s “quiet phase,” which began in 2012. The overall goal is part of Harvard University’s $6.5 billion campaign announced last September. Funds raised from this campaign will support priorities such as student financial aid, faculty research, globalization, and curricular innovation, as well as enhancements such as Klarman Hall to the School's campus.

This is the fourth campaign since the School’s founding in 1908. The first was the $5 million gift from George Fisher Baker, founder and president of the First National Bank of New York, to establish the Harvard Business School campus on the Boston side of the Charles River. The second involved major gifts from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the Rockefeller Foundation to expand the School’s classroom capacity. The last, involving hundreds of donors, concluded in 2005.

“Thanks to the generosity of Beth and Seth Klarman,” said John Hess (MBA 1977), chairman of the current HBS Capital Campaign, “Harvard Business School will continue to be a leader for many years to come in bringing people together to discuss and advance important and innovative ideas that will have an impact on business and society. We are deeply appreciative of their faith in the School and Dean Nohria’s leadership and will do all we can to fulfill the dream that this gift makes possible.”


Brian Kenny
Chief Marketing & Communications Officer

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.