Dec. 19, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- The Southfield, Mich., architectural firm of Neumann/Smith & Associates has been selected as the design consultant for Western Michigan University's new student services building. Designed to provide a new "front door" for WMU, the building will be located at the southeast corner of Stadium Drive and Oliver Street.
"This new building will bring a half dozen key offices into one highly visible, convenient location," said WMU President Diether H. Haenicke. "These are offices that provide direct, essential services to our students, who are, of course, our primary customers."
The WMU Board of Trustees approved the selection Dec. 19. The $10 million building will consolidate a number of offices, including admissions, financial aid and student employment. Those offices now are located in three other buildings.
Construction is expected to begin in 1999 with completion expected in 2000. It is being financed as part of $37.5 million in capital outlay funds approved by the state Legislature. The total cost of this project and an engineering research building is $50 million, of which WMU must provide $12.5 million.
"The new building will serve as a welcoming 'front door' to the University for prospective students and their parents," said Evie Asken, director of campus planning. "It also will offer convenience for all students as well as efficiency among staff members."
The design calls for a three-level building of brick with a large glass expanse facing toward the north. It features a long, low wall leading up Oliver Street to the entrance to a 250-space parking lot at the back of the building. The wall is intended to guide visitors toward the parking lot entrance.
The building also will include a pointed tower of glass that will serve as "a beacon of interest and attraction," she said. A large, back-lighted Bronco on one face of the building will heighten its identification as part of WMU. There also will be a plaza in front of the building on the first level.
"The entire design took into consideration the users of the building, both students and staff members, and the need for accessibility," Asken said. "The building's interior arrangement will provide excellent flow between offices and levels. It's going to be a very user-friendly building."
The building will create about 40,000 gross square feet of space. Its red brick exterior will complement other campus buildings. Offices being considered to occupy the new building include admissions and orientation; campus apartments; customer account services; registrar's office, including records; residence hall facilities; student employment; and student financial aid and scholarships.
A wide range of groups were involved when architects presented plans to the University. They included representatives of the Campus Planning Council of the Faculty Senate and the Western Student Association.
Also involved were staff members from each of the offices that will occupy the building as well
as from the offices of planning, facilities development and physical plant. In addition, Haenicke and the University's five vice presidents participated in the process.
Neumann/Smith & Associates has a varied practice that includes a number of educational facilities. They include buildings at Lawrence Technological University, Ferris State University and Wayne State University. The firm was selected from among three competitors who proposed designs to the University earlier this month.
In other action, the Board of Trustees approved a change in its schedule of meetings for 1998. The meeting originally scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18, will take place one week earlier, on Friday, Dec. 11. The change was required by revisions in the University's academic calendar.
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