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  New Chemistry Building, Western Michigan University


Holabird & Root
140 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60603

General Description

Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Date Bid: Mar 2005
Construction Period: June 2005 to Jan 2007 
Total Square Feet: 82,465 Site: 85,000 square feet.
Number of Buildings: One.
Building Size: Basement, 8,175; first floor, 26,119; second floor, 22,057; each additional floor, 19,354; penthouse, 6,760; total, 82,465 square feet.
Building Height: Basement, 14’; first floor. 19’; second floor, 15’; each additional floor, 15’; penthouse, 15’4”; total, 63’4”. 
Basic Construction Type: IIA/New.
Foundation: Cast-in-place, reinforced concrete, slab-on-grade. Exterior Walls: Brick, curtainwall, insulated metal panel. Roof: Membrane. Floors: Concrete in metal deck, concrete. Interior Walls: Metal stud drywall, CMU. 

Construction Team

Structural Engineer: Holabird & Root - 140 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60603
General Contractor: Miller-Davis Company - 1029 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Electrical & Mechanical Engineer: Ketchmark & Associates, Inc. - 100 Tower Drive, #240, Burr Ridge, IL 60527
Civil Engineer: Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber - 4775 Campus Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

New Chemistry Building, Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University selected Holabird & Root as the Architect and Miller-Davis Company as the General Contractor to design and construct a new chemistry building, part of the new era in science instruction and research at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The facility includes two lecture rooms with seating for 120 students each and a 280-seat auditorium for chemistry and general education purposes, as well as smaller classrooms and instructional labs that are dedicated to science teaching. This new building is a key addition to the science complex at Western Michigan University and represents the realization of Holabird & Root's previously developed planning.

Holabird & Root designed the new chemistry building to respond to four primary concerns of the University. They wanted a facility that supports collaborative learning both in and out of the classrooms and labs; promotes safety in the sciences; showcases the sciences to the campus community; and connects the new labs to existing facilities.

Since a great deal of learning takes place outside of the formal classroom and laboratory settings, Holabird & Root planned areas that foster informal discussion at strategic locations within the building. Seating, display areas, and white boards along corridors provide space for students and faculty to present their work. These areas have become the natural locations for student poster sessions and discussions. This encourages the sharing of ideas, thus fostering a strong sense of community. 

Laboratory bench layouts were arranged to support group-learning activities. A modular organization provides flexibility, allowing the labs to accommodate the needs of different courses. The lecture rooms are arranged with loose seating and curved fixed tables mounted two tables per tier. This flexible arrangement allows for easy conversions from lectures to discussion groups during class. The rooms have been fully equipped to allow a number of methods of presentation to occur simultaneously. These include state-of-the-art technologies such as video projection and tracking and a wireless network, as well as traditional methods such as demonstration tables, white boards, overheads, and slide projection. 

State-of-the-art mechanical systems provide a safe environment for teaching chemistry. The numerous chemical fume hoods are arranged around the perimeter of the labs to provide clear site lines for the instructors. The island lab benches are kept free of reagent shelves and elevated lab service piping systems to maintain the open site lines. Windows to the corridors make science visible to the casual passerby, as well as provide a passive safety measure for those working within.

Display cases are provided throughout the facility to showcase science projects and features. "View windows" into the laboratory spaces animate the corridors while presenting the tools and excitement of scientific investigation to building occupants.

The site was selected based on Holabird & Root's site master plan for the original science addition, Haenicke Hall. The building was sited to form an edge to the primary campus pedestrian way. A glass canopy along this path shelters pedestrians, and full-height windows allow everyone in the building to feel connected to the outside as well as allow those passing by to see science-related displays and activities. An open central staircase with daylight visually links the floors and provides a visual connection to the surrounding campus. A bridge to the adjacent Wood Hall, which houses many of the science faculty offices, further reinforces campus connections. This bridge also links the new facility to the rest of the science facilities, which were also designed by Holabird & Root.   


DIV: 7: Insulated Metal Panels: Centria; Membrane Roofing: Carlisle.
DIV. 8: Curtainwall, Entrances & Storefronts: Vistawall; Entrances: Stanley; Glazing: Oldcastle; Special Doors: Won-Door. 
DIV. 14: Elevators: Schindler. 
DIV. 26: Lighting: Lithonia, Litecontrol. 

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