Fountain Plaza reopens after summer improvements

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Photo of updated Fountain Plaza.

The new plaza design includes a curved fountain wall and increased green space.

KALAMAZOO—Fountain Plaza by Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium officially reopened Oct. 10 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The plaza was cordoned off this summer while the area was redesigned to improve accessibility and traffic flow as well as to create a less formal, more inviting space where people can meet, sit, study, relax or simply people-watch.

Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Rex Bell, representing the contractor, the Miller-Davis Co., and Kenneth Peregon, representing the project designer, O'Boyle, Cowell, Blalock & Associates.

Making remarks on behalf of WMU were Dr. John M. Dunn, president; Dr. Richard A. Gershon, professor and Campus Planning Finance Council member; Peter J. Strazdas, associate vice president for facilities management; and Jan Van Der Kley, vice president for business and finance.

"I'm ecstatic to be here and see this done," Dunn told the assembled crowd. "You can't go anywhere in the state of Michigan and find a campus better maintained and more attractive."

About Fountain Plaza

Photo of updated Fountain Plaza.

Fountain Plaza looking toward Sprau Tower.

The plaza was originally constructed in 1968 by Miller-Davis. It is a major crossroads for visitors to the University's main arts buildings—Miller Auditorium, the Dalton Center and the Richmond Center for Visual Arts—as well as to three key instructional and office buildings—Brown Hall, Dunbar Hall and Sprau Tower.

Bell noted during his remarks that the redesign project pulls that part of campus together, while Peregon commented that the project provides a space that can be in use all of the time and where people can find personal niches.

Along with improving the flow of foot traffic, the redesign included installation of a ramp to provide access to the lower plaza level on the east side of Miller Auditorium. Overall, the area has a softer look due to more green space, more shade and curved features built into the new hardscape as well as the plaza's existing pool.

Bermed lawn panels now rise from behind some 365 feet of curved walls. The walls double as places to sit, and the panels provide additional lawn seating options. In all, 10 more trees and 7,303 more square feet of green space have been added to the plaza.

In addition, a curved 98-foot-long stone wall has been incorporated into the pool to create varying fountain depths and allow for a new waterfall feature. Also, a broad expanse of concrete pavement has been replaced with a decorative textured surface.