WMU Student Center features curved walls and circular rooms instead of traditional rectangular spaces

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WMU

CannonDesign has unveiled the Student Center at Western Michigan University (WMU), which is built with a student-centric approach. The new space replaces the Bernhard Center and focuses on promoting connection, community, and collaboration among all students. Spread over three levels, the building features various gathering spots, lounges, dining options, the campus bookstore, and an on-campus brewpub.

The building layout was developed based on the concept of “C3” spaces, which stands for collide, collaborate, and conspire, taking inputs from thousands of students. The idea behind this was to create spaces that enable students to connect with each other throughout the building.

WMU

The design incorporates elements of Native American culture, including the idea of a sitting circle, inspired by student feedback. The building features curved walls and circular rooms instead of traditional straight walls and rectangular spaces. The building’s design revolves around celebrating nature and incorporates inspiration from local natural elements.

The ground floor is built with stone that mirrors the region’s bedrock, Coldwater Shale.

The middle level is wrapped in glass and features exposed columns that mimic the experience of walking through a Michigan forest.

The upper level comprises gold fins that fan out around the façade, providing sun protection and reflecting cutouts that imitate a tree canopy shadow onto the exterior glass and into the interior spaces.

Project Info

Name: Western Michigan University (WMU) Student Center
Size: 163,000 square foot
Associate architect: Hobbs + Black Architects
Key Project Team Members: Charles Smith, Brett Lawrence, Carrie Parker, Robert Benson, Renee Wallace, Paul Terzino, Chris Sligh

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