Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Maggie Kane Editor-in-Chief
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership building, originally scheduled for Oct. 9, has been postponed due to logistical challenges.
The initial design plan for the building, which will house the ACSJL, was completed about a year and a half ago, said Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Paul Manstrom. The structure will be built on the empty lot on the corner of Academy & Monroe.
“The builder, the designer and the college are meeting just to refine certain areas of the design,” said Manstrom.
The team is currently looking at methods for building that will keep the construction costs within the $5 million budget, said Manstrom. This includes assessing the materials used in the building process.
The project has 14 different work categories, including steel, general trades and electric. The project team has not yet chosen contractors for these positions, something Manstrom said should be in the works before the groundbreaking occurs.
The project has been delayed in the past. Jeff Palmer, media relations manager, said the project stalled while Kalamazoo College went through a re-zoning process. K is now designated as an institutional campus, which allows the college to move forward with projects laid out in a proposed 10-year plan.
Palmer said the delay benefited the project. The re-zoning process took place during the construction of the new Angell Field complex.
“The whole college really could not handle two big construction projects at one time,” Palmer said. “I think there may have been a quiet sigh of relief.”
With the fields now finished, K can focus its attention on the new center, Palmer added.
The overall design for the building has not changed significantly since its initial stage.
“Jeanne Gang’s key design concepts and the distinctive features of the building are firmly in place,” wrote Jamie Grant, executive director of the ACSJL, in an email. “The social justice ‘crossroads’ that has been imagined for the building is intact.”
The design team most recently adjusted some of the interior layout aspects, including the plan for restrooms.
“People wanted to move away from gender-specific restrooms,” said Manstrom.
The current plan has clusters of private bathrooms with common mirror and counter space outside.
“The idea was to challenge people about gender identifications,” Manstrom said.
The groundbreaking date currently remains up in the air. Manstrom and Grant would both like to start construction before the end of fall quarter, but Manstrom said there is a slight chance it may not happen until the beginning of winter quarter.
Once construction begins, Manstrom said it should take no longer than a year to complete the building.
In the meantime, the ACSJL continues to operate.
“The center is up and running at full speed; they have a staff and they have programs,” said Palmer.