Dean Nitin Nohria called Tata Hall “a gift that will transform our campus for decades to come,” one that represents “a significant moment in the evolution of our business School.”
“Although our School has welcomed international students since its very first class in 1908, Tata Hall represents by far the most significant gift made by an international alum,” he said. “As such, it signifies our institution’s status as a truly global institution.”
Nohria noted that although HBS may be best known for its M.B.A. program, the School educates many more people through its various executive education programs.
Named in honor of Ratan Tata, a 1975 graduate of the advanced management program at HBS, the building was funded through gifts from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Tata Education and Development Trust.
Dean Emeritus Jay O. Light, noted alumnus and benefactor C. Dixon “Dick” Spangler, and Senior Associate Dean of Executive Education Das Narayandas all spoke of the profound impact the new facility will have on future executives and leaders who travel from around the globe to study and collaborate at HBS and then return to their businesses with fresh insights and advanced skills.
Designed by Boston-based William Rawn Associates, the elegant, seven-story, glass-and-limestone building offers sweeping Charles River vistas and includes 179 bedrooms, two classrooms, three gathering spaces, as well as conference rooms, for some of the more than 9,000 students who participate in the executive education program each year. Built with state-of-the-art sustainability and energy efficiency in mind, Tata is expected to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum certification, its highest rating.
Rawn said Tata, himself an architect, presented the firm with two design challenges: to make the building warm and welcoming to visitors and to make it as open and transparent as possible. “Can the building touch the ground lightly?” Rawn recalled of Tata’s charge, to explain the walls of glass.
Tata was the chairman of Tata Sons Ltd. in Mumbai, India, until his retirement in 2012. He jocularly recalled his first weeks on the Harvard campus as “confusing” and said he felt “humiliated” by the daunting caliber of his fellow students.
“It was the only time in my life where I sat and crossed out day by day how many days were left before I could return to the normal world,” he said. “But what it did do for me, as I soon found out, the confusion sort of disappeared, and you understood the magnitude of what you had learned in a manner that I believe is not possible to do in places other than at this business School.
“As I look back, those 13 weeks were probably the most important 13 weeks of my life. They transformed me and my perspective.”