Kalamazoo College Unveils Preliminary Building Design For Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership

CONTACT: Jeff Palmer, 269.337.5724

May 17, 2011

–Award-winning Studio Gang Architects create a
“unique, welcoming space” and “dynamic, accessible crossroads”–

–College moves oldest structure on campus to make way for newest–

[KALAMAZOO, Mich. – May 17, 2011] Kalamazoo College officials today unveiled the preliminary design for a new building to house the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Renderings from Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects were shown to the College community and neighbors at a campus gathering Monday. Detailed drawings will follow by fall. Construction will last an estimated 12 months. No start date has been set, however, because the College must first work its way through a campus master planning and rezoning process, which includes the new Arcus Center building.

Located at the campus’s highest elevation, on the southeast corner of Academy and Monroe streets, the Arcus Center is designed to be inviting and open, in keeping with other recent renovations on campus, most notably Hicks Student Center (completed in 2009) and Upjohn Library Commons (2005).

“We’re very excited to release early images of what will be a unique, welcoming structure,” said Kalamazoo President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran. “These drawings reflect the creative and collaborative process we are going through to create a space in which current and future social justice leaders will collaborate to research and learn. We are so very pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with Studio Gang on this project.”

The one-story building will be approximately 9,500 square feet and serve as an interactive space for the College and the community. Three gently arcing exterior walls define the structure’s central gathering space and embrace the surrounding landscape. Michigan-sourced white cedar will be used to construct the wood masonry exterior. Large expanses of glass at the ends of the three arcs and clerestory glazing will bring light and views of the surrounding landscape into the interior. The building will incorporate a range of green building strategies and expects to attain a LEED rating.

The Studio Gang team, led by the firm’s founder and principal, Jeanne Gang, has visited Kalamazoo numerous times since summer 2010. “We’ve met with ‘K’ students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as some local residents and community partners in a creative, deliberative process,” said Gang. “Our goal is to create a dynamic, accessible space where interaction is facilitated and ideas shared.”

Kalamazoo College’s newest building will rise on the site of its oldest, Hoben House, a two-story brick home constructed in 1925 by then Kalamazoo College President Allan Hoben. It was his residence and home to successive “K” presidents until 1978, when it became headquarters of the L. Lee Stryker Center for Management Studies and Educational Services. A two-story frame addition constructed in 1985 included meeting rooms, offices and an outside deck. After the Stryker Center closed in 2007, the building housed a succession of campus programs and offices.

The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership was slated to move into the Hoben/Stryker building, but renovation options fell short of the Center’s needs. In summer 2010, founder and president of the Arcus Foundation and “K” College alumnus Jon Stryker pledged funds for a new building. Rather than raze the existing structure, the College identified private landowners who were willing to move the original Hoben House to their nearby off-campus lot. The College has removed the 1985 addition and Hoben House is due to be moved to its new location on the corner of South and Monroe streets by June 1.

The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (https://reason.kzoo.edu/csjl) is a new initiative by Kalamazoo College, launched in 2009 with a two-year, $2.1 million grant from the Arcus Foundation (www.arcusfoundation.org). Supporting Kalamazoo College’s mission to prepare graduates who provide enlightened leadership to an interconnected and increasingly complex world, and responding to the need for development of engaged citizens who have the abilities to envision and create a socially just world, the Arcus Center will develop new leaders and sustain existing leaders in the field of human rights and social justice.

Founded by Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in 1997, Studio Gang is a rising international practice whose work confronts pressing contemporary issues. Conceived as a collective of architects, designers, and thinkers, the studio acts as a lab for testing ideas on varying scales: from cities to environments to individual buildings’ unique material properties. The firm’s provocative and alluring architecture is exemplified by such recent projects such as the Aqua Tower (2009 Emporis Skyscraper of the Year), Columbia College Chicago’s Media Production Center (a cutting-edge film production and teaching facility), and the Lincoln Park Zoo South Pond (an educational pavilion and landscape that is quickly becoming a new Chicago landmark). Studio Gang’s work has received national and international recognition and has been published and exhibited widely, most notably at the International Venice Biennale, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Building Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1833, Kalamazoo College (www.kzoo.edu) is a nationally recognized liberal arts college and the creator of the “K-Plan,” which emphasizes rigorous scholarship, experiential learning, and both international and intercultural engagement. “K” College has approximately 1,370 students from 38 states and 31 countries; nearly 20 percent are students of color.

Approximately 85 percent of Kalamazoo students participate in a meaningful, immersive international and intercultural experience at more than 50 programs in 25 countries on six continents; more than two-thirds complete an internship or externship; more than half participate in course-based or student-led co-curricular service-learning projects; and all students engage in a Senior Individualized Project, an in-depth research or creative project done in the senior year.