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Foto: Daniël Rommens

“Building M helped establish the Business School as a brand”

Sija van den Beukel,
10 maart 2023 - 09:20

Like the prow of a spaceship, the glass façade of Building M marks the corner of the Roeterseiland campus. The building gave the Amsterdam Business School (ABS) its own identity. But it wasn't initially designed for that, says board secretary Bas Bouten.

“There used to be a huge, yellow, round futuristic doorman's desk here, right in the middle of the hall,” recalls Bas Bouten (48), board secretary of the ABS. “Really an eye-catcher, very beautiful, but it prevented anything from being organized such as receptions or seminars.”

Foto: Ineke Oostveen
Bas Bouten


It was one of the changes the ABS made when they moved into the building originally designed for the computer center. From then on, the UvA's ICT would no longer be managed by faculty but centrally. At the same time, the Business School was growing rapidly, causing a shortage of space in the E-towers. Bouten says: "In addition, ABS grew not only in numbers but also in identity. The idea was to establish the ABS as a brand.”

So it was decided at the eleventh hour that not ICT Services but the ABS should move to the M-building at Plantage Muidergracht 12 in 2009. “The building is very light with lots of glass and open spaces. For research, the latter works less pleasantly.” Office gardens were condensed, and walls were built between two consultation rooms in the same open space. The spiral staircase had to give way, as did walls that blocked light into the basement – quickly dubbed the basement by employees.



Bouten himself does not really have a fixed place in the building: "I am a kind of nomad.” He has been working at the ABS since 2006 in a kind of double function of manager and head of the secretariat on the one hand and policy officer at the research institute on the other. “That way I have a liaison role between the research institute and the department.”

“Being in one building together, you feel more connected. There is an above-average sense of affinity with the school”

According to Bouten, the move has benefited a feeling of togetherness at the ABS. “Being in one building together, you feel more connected. There is an above-average sense of affinity with the school. Also, in recent years we have attracted many people from abroad where the concept of a school is also more alive.”

Top location 

Even after the move, the ABS continued to grow. “The growth went so fast that at some point it came down to: either get out of the building or annex more space within the building.” That became the digital test room (M 3.01) on the third floor of the wing adjacent to the terrace. The room was used by the entire UvA during exam weeks and was then still under the management of the Education Logistics Office. “It is one of the most beautiful rooms in the building. It really is in a prime location with beautiful views of the city, while in practice students stared at a computer there for three hours.”

After the approval of the Board of Trustees, the room came into the possession of the ABS and was further compartmentalized into office space for the Strategy and International Business Department. That was in 2019, just before space shortage due to the corona pandemic temporarily disappeared from the agenda. Meanwhile, the ABS continued to grow, and when employees moved back into the building, the new wing was already packed. “It is now more crowded than ever.”

Moving is not on the agenda for now. “We very much want to stay in this building. Besides, since corona, working from home and sharing rooms has become more and more common. So that's how we'll solve it for now.” Cramming even more people in is no longer an option. “A building also needs air and an open structure where you feel things are possible.”

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