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Richmond Center recognized for design excellence

May 13, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Richmond Center for Visual Arts has been honored for design excellence by the American Institute of Architects Michigan.

The center, designed by architectural firm SmithGroup, was one of 12 buildings in Michigan honored at the 2010 AIA Michigan Honor Awards and Recognition Program held May 7 in Detroit.

The award is an annual program to recognize architectural firms and professionals that "make significant contributions to the built environment," according to the AIA website. Other program sponsors included the Sheet Metal Employers Industry Promotion Fund and Great Lake Fabricators and Erectors Association.

Completed in 2007, the copper-roofed Richmond Center is a sweeping 44,000-square-foot, $13 million building that houses WMU's Frostic School of Art and a variety of public exhibition spaces. The Richmond Center's opening in June 2007 signaled the completion of the West Campus arts village that consolidates the visual and performing arts on campus.

In selecting the building for the award, the national jury indicated, "This sensitively designed addition to the campus not only completes a quadrangle, but also ties several buildings together through circulation routes while establishing a visual arts presence for the campus. The interior is energized by exterior courts and internal exhibition areas lit through interestingly clerestories and are visible from several locations with the building."

"The Richmond Center for Visual Arts continues to be a work of art in its own right, giving not only presence but life to the visual arts for our community," said Dr. Margaret Merrion, dean of the College of Fine Arts, who attended the award ceremony. "We celebrate the award-winning design and deeply appreciate the university's and community's commitment to support the arts in Kalamazoo."

The center's $13 million cost was funded almost entirely with private funds, more than any building in WMU history. Major underwriting came from James and Lois Richmond, the Gwen Frostic estate and the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation. The Richmonds, longtime Kalamazoo residents and WMU alumni, made a $2.5 million gift toward construction of the new center.

Galleries in the facility include the Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery that features major exhibits. The Eleanor R. and Robert A. DeVries Student Art Gallery showcases exhibits for art majors and, in some summer months, the work of distinguished alumni and regional artists. The Rose Netzorg and James I. Kerr Gallery displays works from the University Art Collection, faculty and visiting artists. A sculpture garden surrounding the first floor brings the works of nationally and internationally recognized artists to campus as part of WMU's ongoing sculpture tour.

The Richmond Center was constructed over a two-year period. SmithGroup did the architectural work and CSM Group of Galesburg, Mich., was the construction management firm.

For more information, contact Dr. Margaret Merrion at margaret.merrion@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5810.

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Media contact: Deanne Puca, (269) 387-8400, deanne.puca@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400