Kalamazoo College Will Host a Ceremonial Groundbreaking for New Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership

3D model of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College
A 3D model of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership will be on display in Upjohn Library Commons through Spring Quarter 2013.


Kalamazoo College will host a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership on Friday, April 19, at 4:30 p.m. The ceremony is open to the public and will take place on the construction site located at the corner of Academy St. and Monroe St. on the K campus. Attendees are asked to gather on Trowbridge Lane that runs south off Academy St. along the east side of the construction site.

K students, faculty, staff, alumni, and board members will participate in the ceremony along with representatives of Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects.

An Arcus Center staff member and Studio Gang architect will discuss the building’s use and design in the lobby of Upjohn Library Commons at the corner of Academy St. and Thompson St., at 12:15 and 3:00 p.m. on the day of the groundbreaking ceremony. On display will be architectural drawings, a 3D model, and a sample section of the distinctive wood masonry siding planned for the building.

Construction for the single-story, 10,000 sq. ft. building began in late fall 2012 with contractor Miller-Davis Company of Kalamazoo. The building is scheduled to be completed in late winter 2014 at a cost of approximately $5 million—paid through a generous gift from K alumnus and trustee Jon Stryker.

Upon completion, the Center will be the world’s first purpose-built structure for social justice leadership development and will support the College’s mission in multiple ways. It will feature study, meeting, and event space where students, faculty, visiting scholars, social justice leaders, and members of the public will come together to engage in scholarship, dialog, and activities aimed at creating a more just world.

The Center is sited to engage its three immediate contexts—the K campus, a residential neighborhood, and an old-growth grove of trees—by drawing their topography into the building and outwardly projecting the activities taking place within through transparent façades.

The gently curving walls connecting these façades are constructed with wood masonry, a low-carbon, highly insulating building method traditional to the upper Midwest, updated to respond to the needs of a contemporary institutional building for the first time. A LEED Gold rating is targeted.

The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership was launched in 2009 with support from the Arcus Foundation (www.arcusfoundation.org), including a $23 million endowment grant in January 2012. Supporting Kalamazoo College’s mission to prepare its graduates to better understand, live successfully within, and provide enlightened leadership to a richly diverse and increasingly complex world, the new social justice center will develop new leaders and sustain existing leaders in the field of human rights and social justice.

Kalamazoo College (www.kzoo.edu), founded in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 1833, is a nationally recognized liberal arts college and the creator of the K-Plan that emphasizes rigorous scholarship, learning by practice, leadership development, and international and intercultural engagement. Kalamazoo College does more in four years, so students can do more in a lifetime.