Summer renovation of Fountain Plaza to feature more green space

Share |
Sketch of planned improvements to Campus Fountain.

Artist rendering of planned renovations to Fountain Plaza; aerial view looking west

KALAMAZOO—A summer redesign of Fountain Plaza near Miller Auditorium will result in more green space, more seating and more shade to make the area a destination for passive recreation.

"The plans that have been developed call for layout that is more organic in feel," says David Dakin, director of campus planning. "We're trying to move away from the rigid geometric shapes that characterize the current layout and opting, instead, for a layout that is more informal and inviting. We want people to sit and enjoy the fountain, read, study or just people watch."

The beginning phase of the redesign, which includes major reconfiguration of the pavement and expansion of green space, is scheduled to take place this summer. Dakin says the new pedestrian mall at the center of campus near Sangren Hall is now viewed as the place that can accommodate large-activity gatherings, freeing the fountain area to become a passive recreation destination—"a place to see and be seen."

Planned enhancements

A wealth of new seating in the plaza will be provided by a continuous, curved seating wall that will border bermed lawn panels that rise from the wall top, offering additional lawn seating options. Existing grass and tree plantings will be maintained wherever possible and expanded in some areas.

New features will include lighting fixtures to reinforce the pathway across the plaza, new shade structures with seating beneath them, new plaza entry designs and paving textures, and a new barrier-free access ramp. The plaza's existing tables and umbrellas will be retained and clustered near Sprau Tower.

The fountain itself will be enhanced to reflect and continue the curved design of the walkway that crosses the plaza, while the addition of a curved wall inside the fountain pool will enable the creation of varying fountain depths and a new waterfall feature. Existing fountain jets will be retained initially but may be moved during future remodeling phases, and the bottom of the fountain will receive a stone veneer that complements the surrounding granite walls.

Additional improvements to the fountain are being considered for future phases of the redesign. They include the addition of a sculptural element, new jets and lighting, and a freeze protection system to extend the months of safe operation.

The proposed master plan for the plaza has recently been presented to the Campus Planning and Finance Council and to senior leadership. It can be seen by visiting the Facilities Planning website at fm.wmich.edu/planning.

Send comments or questions about the project to David Dakin at david.dakin@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8543.