Construction exec offers synergy as students rethink Venice’s transportation hub

Topics: Immersive Learning, Alumni, Miller College of Business, College of Architecture and Planning, College of Applied Sciences and Technology, International Education

September 7, 2010

Construction executive Robert Hunt will bring his expertise in building large-scale projects to Ball State University this fall as an immersive learning experience focuses on a major design project in Europe.

Hunt, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in business from Ball State in 1969, will return to campus as an executive-in-residence, interacting with students in several programs as they focus on redesigning a large transportation hub in Venice, Italy — the Pizzale Roma, a main arrival/departure point for rail and bus service in the landmark city.

Hunt is the chairman and chief executive officer of Hunt Construction Group, Inc. The firm ranks as one of the top construction firms in the country and is widely recognized as the premier builder of sports facilities and convention centers.

Hunt's role as executive-in-residence for the university is an example of a talented alumnus bringing his knowledge into the classroom when students undertake such an ambitious immersive learning project, said Terry King, Ball State's provost and vice president for academic affairs.

"Bob brings a practitioner's viewpoint and incredible synergy as our students tackle a major design project," King said. "Through his work with Hunt Construction Group, he has played a key role in building some of the best facilities in the nation. Without a doubt, he brings a wealth of experience that should enhance our students' education."

Led by architecture professor Michele Chiuini, an interdisciplinary group of students from the College of Architecture and PlanningMiller College of Business and College of Applied Science and Technology is collaborating this semester to create a solution for Pizzale Roma, which has been developed during the 20th century without a clear master plan.

Students will visit Venice in October to gather first-hand information and documentation about the site, analyze various facets of the hub and study the city to better understand its culture, urban form, planning and construction practices, Chiuini explained. The project, conducted in conjunction with Venice city government officials, also will allow students to better understand urban development and infrastructural issues on a global scale.

As part of the effort, students also will visit Amsterdam to acquire additional perspective on the design of transportation systems in a city where, like Venice, canal and pedestrian zones are a fundamental component of the community's urban fabric.

Hunt will make multiple visits to campus during the semester as well as conduct online forums, providing reviews and critiques for the students, who will work in multiple teams to address a different aspect of the project — design, business feasibility, site development and aesthetics.

He also will speak in a number of classes and meet with students and  faculty in all three colleges.  The executive-in-residence program provides an unrivaled opportunity for the Ball State community to learn from and interact with a highly accomplished business leader up front and in person.

Hunt will be joined on visits to campus by his wife, Diana, who is an organizational development specialist, educator and author, and earned a doctorate in educational administration. She will spend time in College of Applied Science and Technology discussing wellness initiatives and related issues.

About Hunt Construction

With offices nationwide, Hunt Construction Group maintains a contract volume of between $6 billion and $8 billion of work and is ranked by Engineering News-Record as 27th in its Top 400 Contractors list.  In a recent ranking of the best sports stadiums built over the last decade, the company dominates, having built five of the top 10 stadiums on the list. They include University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.; AT&T Park, San Francisco; Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia; Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wis.; and Busch Stadium, St. Louis.

Hunt, the third generation to head the company, has been with the firm for more than 40 years, having worked his way up as field engineer, project engineer, construction manager, contract manager, and division manager, until his appointment to his present post in 2006.

He and his wife live in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

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