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The renovation of the business school at St. John’s University looks to keep up with the Joneses

A nearly 40-year-old space is opened up and modernized.

July 24, 2017 |

A “financial lab,” encased within glass walls, is one of the newest features in the renovation of St. John's University's business school. Image: Shawmut Design and Construction

Earlier this month, Shawmut Design and Construction put the finishing touches on its renovation and expansion of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business, a 70,000-sf building located on the Queens, N.Y., campus of St. John’s University.

This building—named after an alumnus and former CFO of Chase Manhattan Bank—first opened in the late 1970s. At a renovation cost of $22 million, this was the largest Higher Ed project to date in New York for Shawmut’s Institutional group. Its 43-week completion schedule included $800,000 in demolition related to a complete interior gutting of the building. (During this project, business students attended classes in other buildings on campus.)

There were between 70 and 100 people working on this project at any given time.

Shawmut Vice President Anthony Miliote says his firm and Cannon Design, the project’s architect, managed to trim the project’s cost from its original budget of about $24.5 million. “Cannon was very pragmatic,” says Miliote, about making modifications to more reasonably priced materials and mechanical systems.


The lobby of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John's UniversityThe $22 million renovation included an expanded lobby area. Image: Shawmut Design and Construction.


In the process, the Building Team updated the space by creating an expanded lobby area, and a high-tech “financial lab,” which Miliote explains is a large classroom/lecture space with computers.

The top two floors are mostly offices for faculty, and the bottom two classrooms. A 503-sf central staircase, with seating steps and ramp, connects the floors. And a horseshoe-shaped atrium provides more transparency throughout the building.

The exterior of the building was pretty much kept intact. The revised front façade involved about 900 sf of curtainwall and storefront glazing, which lets more natural light into the building. The entryway, says Miliote, also got new hard- and landscaping.

A 960-sf outdoor patio with a sloped glass entry was installed where a loading dock roof had once been. And the business school now includes a large multi-purpose space, student study areas, collaboration areas, a career service center, and a start-up incubator lab.

Shawmut is still doing some work for St. John’s, as well as academic projects with NYU Langone, Columbia University and Columbia Medical School, Riverdale Country School, and The Buckley School.

“A lot of this work is about keeping up with the Joneses, enhancing the student experience, and adapting to changing technology,” says Miliote. 

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