New Sangren designed for instructional change and sustainability

Share |
Photo of new Sangren Hall.

New Sangren Hall

KALAMAZOO—The new and much-anticipated Sangren Hall welcomed students with the start of the 2012-13 academic year.

The 230,000-square-foot, four-story, sustainably designed instructional facility is the home of the College of Education and Human Development and the Department of Sociology. The building features 50 classrooms with 2,435 instructional seats, an education library, and a large grants and research center as well as office and clinical space for several programs.

The $60 million structure, built with the goal of achieving LEED gold certification, was designed by SHW Group of Berkley, Mich. and constructed by Kalamazoo's Miller-Davis Co. A formal celebration, "Excellence Renewed," was set for Sept. 28. It also recognized the creation of an expansive pedestrian mall in front of Sangren and the recent, $1.7 million renovation of the nearby Lee Honors College.

In replacing the original Sangren Hall—already partially demolished and set to be completely razed—the new building stands to inherit its legacy as one of the University's most heavily used classroom facilities.

Supporting 21st century instruction, learning

Photo of .

Sangren cafe and study area

Just as the first Sangren Hall, completed in 1964, offered campus the innovations of its day, the new version meets the modern educational needs of contemporary students, faculty, staff and the community at large.

The building has about 30 percent more instructional seats than the old Sangren. Its classrooms are flexible spaces that are configured to support student collaboration and modern instructional techniques. In "media" classrooms, for example, students may connect a personal laptop computer to display websites, documents and any other information from their computer onto a large screen for an entire class to view.

The building's library is intended to promote team building and group study as well. It has five meeting rooms, each with a wall-mounted flat screen to which students may connect a laptop. The library's books are on compact shelving units that move on tracks and save on space while containing a large amount of reading material.

Important role at WMU

Though now new, Sangren also has special historical significance. Like the original building, the ashes of WMU's second president, Paul V. Sangren, and his wife, Flossie, are interred there. And the University itself, founded as a teacher training school in 1903, has its roots in the College of Education and Human Development, one of the country's top producers of educational personnel.

Sangren is the setting for important work in the fields of education and sociology, impacting the local community, the state and even the nation. In addition to preparing thousands of undergraduate students for teaching careers, the college has graduate degrees in evaluation, measurement and research, educational leadership, counselor education, counseling psychology and other professional areas.

The college's McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic, on the fourth floor, offers literacy assessment and tutoring to the local community and school systems across the area. The sociology department's Kercher Center for Social Research, on the third floor, conducts contract research. The center's clients have included the Michigan Department of Public Health, state office of drug control policy, the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies.

Sustainable materials used in construction

Exemplar of sustainability

Part of this modern take on Sangren Hall includes thoughtful and detailed attention to its environmental impact. The building and surrounding features have been designed to meet some of the highest environmental and energy standards. The University is applying for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, gold certification level for new construction, a top designation for sustainability bestowed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

"This building is one of the most energy efficient on our campus and in the State of Michigan. Lowering our carbon footprint is good for the environment and lowering our operating costs is good for our students and taxpayers," says Pete Strazdas, WMU's associate vice president for facilities management.

In energy costs alone, the University expects to save some $345,000 annually. Savings are owed in part to energy efficient lighting, a mechanical heat-recovery system, high-efficiency motors, new efficient chilled water plant, occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting. Occupancy detectors moderate Sangren's heating and cooling system so that the optimal amount is used. And the building's plumbing system has been contrived to optimize water consumption.

Visitors to the building will notice the use of sustainable material, including bamboo wood veneer on doors and millwork and cork and terrazzo flooring. Salvaged granite has been used for exterior walkways, benches and the water feature outside Sangren. Sedum plantings cover a low roof and entry canopy on the south side of the building. The sedum-planted "green roof" is one aspect of the site's stormwater management system.

"We are retaining the stormwater runoff on this site using many best-management practices," Strazdas says.

Site irrigation and filtration includes gravel drainage strips, landscape swales, underground retention basins and water-efficient plantings. WMU had an opportunity to share the campus stormwater practices and Sangren site work with Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He praised the University as a model for others in Michigan.

So in addition to being a cutting-edge classroom building, Sangren is an exemplar of sustainability. But for all these special qualities, Strazdas says that "the real reward is not the building itself. My biggest joy is seeing the students interact in this remarkable building. It's not about creating something cool for the institution, it's about how this building will help our students learn."

Sustainability Sangren style

  • Estimated annual energy savings of $345,000
  • Compared to original building, 30 to 35 percent energy reduction and 50 percent reduction in water use
  • Green roofing at low roof and entry canopy on south side of building
  • Water-efficient plumbing features
  • Daylight harvesting
  • Occupancy sensors
  • Solar-shading devices
  • Sustainable wood products
  • Low-VOC (volatile organic compound) interior finishes
  • Use of salvaged granite for paving
  • 78 percent of construction debris recycled
  • Storm-water management system that includes porous asphalt, gravel drainage strips, landscape swales and underground retention basins, water-efficient landscape plantings and irrigation
  • Preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Bike racks and changing showers/facilities

Sangren Hall construction by the numbers

  • 165 workers per day
  • 1,350 tons of steel
  • 50,000 square feet of glass
  • 50,000 square feet of cork
  • 7,075 cubic yards of concrete slabs
  • 750,000 square feet of drywall

The new Sangren Hall by the numbers

  • Four floors, 230,000 square feet
  • Among WMU's largest classroom facilities, replaces a 48-year-old facility
  • Construction cost: $60 million, state of Michigan and University funding
  • Built to LEED gold certification standards
  • 50 classrooms with 2,435 instructional seats, including two 175-seat auditoriums
  • Home to the College of Education and Human Development and Department of Sociology
  • Includes an education library, as well as office and clinical space for several programs
  • Location of McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic, which annually serves 150 to 200 Michigan children, from preschool ages through the eighth-grade
  • Home of the Kercher Center for Social Research which conducts local, state and federal research
  • Location of one of two WMU centers for Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Site of the Tate Center for Research and Innovation, a large and flexible space used to develop innovative projects and programs, named after Merze Tate, a 1927 WMU graduate who became a distinguished diplomatic historian
  • Interment site for the cremains of Paul V. Sangren, WMU's second president, and his wife, Flossie. Their ashes were moved to the new building Aug. 10