As chairman and chief executive officer of Hunt Construction Group, Robert Hunt modestly admits he has learned a thing or two about creating high tech sporting facilities, leading edge office complexes, mega airports, destination resorts, and health-care campuses since he graduated from Ball State in 1969.
Among his latest challenges was mentoring a group of Ball State students during their project to rethink a transportation hub in Venice, Italy—the Pizzale Roma, a main arrival/departure point for rail and bus service in the landmark city.
Hunt served as an executive-in-residence
for the immersive learning
class that brought together an interdisciplinary group of students from the College of Architecture and Planning
, Miller College of Business
,and College of Applied Science and Technology
to re-create Pizzale Roma, which was developed during the 20th century without a clear master plan.
“I thought it was genius for the university to bring students from different majors to create teams, which is something we take pride in at Hunt Construction,” Hunt says. “I witnessed a great deal of growth in the students as we reviewed their work. They had to expand their world as they adjusted to the European culture where the problems can be far different from our own here in the United States.”
Whether it was during his visits to campus to talk to individual groups or fielding questions via the Internet, Hunt wanted the students to understand there is a great deal to be learned outside the classroom.
“Immersive learning is truly remarkable. We had nothing like it when I was a student in the 1960s,” Hunt says. “I was very impressed with several Ball State faculty on this project because they have a strong desire to support the students and forge a strong connection.”Sage Advice
Led by architecture
professor Michele Chiuini
, the students visited Venice in October 2010 to gather firsthand information and documentation about the site, analyze various facets of the existing hub, and study the city, to better understand its culture, urban form, planning, and construction practices. The project, conducted in partnership with Venice city government officials, also allowed students to better understand urban development and infrastructural issues on a global scale.
“Bob Hunt has been the catalyst for this collaboration since he was directly involved in the design reviews, which often lasted for a few hours,” Chiuini says. “His feedback to our students was invaluable, often bringing their feet back to the ground and giving them insight on the entire process.”