Western Michigan University


College of Health & Human Services

Kalamazoo, Michigan

187,000 GSF, 17,373 M2

Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Science, Interior Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Programming

“"Your project team works as a unit, sharing the goal and doing a good job."”

—Evie Asken, (Former) Director of Campus Planning


The inaugural landmark for the university’s new south campus presented SmithGroupJJR with several challenges. The facility plan needed to include space for nursing, health, therapeutic, and social work programs, in addition to computer labs, offices, dining and lounge areas, and a learning resource center. It also had to establish a strong direction for the expansion while also proving compatible with the existing campus style.

SmithGroupJJR developed a design that both forged new aesthetic territory and celebrated campus legacy. Brick masonry and linear windows, boldly contemporary in image, define the four-story, bar-shaped instruction and research facility facing the campus. A full-height atrium connects this structure to a massive arc-shaped volume housing support facilities and social interaction spaces. Many of the spaces also offer expansive views of a nearby stand of carefully preserved, old-growth oaks for all to enjoy.

With a winter garden and plaza-court enlivening the program, the project supports the campus master plan by reflecting its central axis, which extends from the new college to a nearby transit stop.