Architect E. W. Arnold of Battle Creek, Michigan, was hired to design the first building. His early submittal of a campus master plan is shown below. The first building, the Administration Building, was started May 16, 1904 and occupied September 1, 1905.
The architect selected for the project, E. W. Arnold, designed the first building for the Western State Normal School—the Administration Building—and drafted a plan for a quadrangle of potential future buildings. The Olmsted Brothers used the Arnold quadrangle plan as the basis for a landscape, or planting, plan for the entire 20-acre site.
Architect E. W. Arnold of Battle Creek, Michigan, returned to design the addition. Plans from 1906 show the proposed additions in the context of the overall campus plan from 1903. The "Gymnasium and Addition" was completed in 1907.
By 1923 he had negotiated for all the land bounded by Oakland Drive, the Michigan Central Railroad, and the state psychiatric hospital (located to the south on Oakland Drive), plus some additional land just south of the original buildings. This land survey for the Western State Normal Campus is not dated but can be attributed to 1921-22.
Campus and facility growth kept pace with enrollment. In 1924 the campus included almost a dozen structures and had expanded west across Oakland Drive from the original Prospect Hill site. The grounds included football and baseball fields, tennis courts and a playground for the Training School students. The 1906 gymnasium addition to the Administration Building became the ladies' gymnasium. The men's gymnasium was built on the other side of Oakland Drive in 1925.
Eames Mill, at the "point" between Michigan Avenue and Oakland Drive, was purchased in 1917. It housed the Manual Arts programs until their building was completed in 1921. The mill then served as the school's theatre or playhouse. The mill was condemned around 1940. A new theatre was completed in 1942 on the corner of Oliver Street and Oakland Drive.
As can be seen in the plan, the school was expanding to the west of Prospect Hill (often called Normal Hill). Campus expansion and development was proving to be a challenge for the administration. The physical planning issues included steep terrain on three sides of Normal Hill, established residential neighborhoods to the south and east, the Kalamazoo State (Psychiatric) Hospital to the south and a railroad line and swampland further to the west. (Waldo Stadium was constructed on drained land). There were few building options that did not involve above-average construction costs, either from building on steep slopes or wetlands or from buying up residential properties. Apparently the stadium location was considered undesirable, for the plan shows that there were hopes of moving the stadium further up the hillside to approximately where parking lot #10 is now located, away from the constant drainage problems.
Existing buildings that are to be removed are marked with an "X". Proposed buildings are drawn and numbered. The caption contains a description of each proposed building and a projected cost.
By the fall of 1940, 2,550 students were enrolled at Western, 208 of which were graduate students. The physical campus had expanded and been fully developed in the area bounded by Davis Street, Bellevue Place, Austin Street, Oliver Street and highway U.S. 12, which ran parallel to the Michigan Central Railroad tracks. At this point, Western was poised for further expansion.
Thanks to a gift from Mrs. Anna Carstens Kanley, a donation to the state from the Upjohn Foundation and a large appropriation from the state, additional properties were purchased to the west of the railroad tracks. A total of 155 acres were purchased for $135,000, a phenomenal deal even by the standards of the day. The Western campus grew from roughly 60 acres in 1936, to 75 acres in 1940, to 230 acres in 1946.
Land purchases in the 1930s and 1940s expanded the campus properties from Davis Street on the east to Vande Giessen Road on the west. By 1952, Western was firmly established on the lands to the west of the railroad tracks. Western's campus was now comprised of 230 acres, including Waldo Stadium, Hyames Field and 42 buildings. A new administration building was completed in 1952, a symbolic and physical sign that the "heart" of campus was now on West Michigan Avenue. The campus halves were officially known as "East Campus" and "West Campus".
In the early 1950s Western acquired 48 acres of land on the north side of West Michigan Avenue, adjacent to the Kalamazoo College athletic fields. By 1956, Western had built a new men's residence hall (Ellsworth Hall) and was constructing the Student Center. Three more residence halls were planned, with enclosed walkways connecting them to the dining rooms in the Student Center.
During the '50s and '60s, half of Western's undergraduate students and about one-third of the graduate students lived on campus. Before World War II there was no family or married student housing on campus. After the war the returning service men and their families were accommodated in "temporary" barracks housing laid out in rows along Western Avenue. National trends showed that married student housing would continue to be needed, and the Elmwood Apartments, units A through Q, were built along Western Avenue between 1953 and 1957.
In addition to the Burnhams and the Draper-Siedschlag Residence Halls, built along Western Avenue in 1948 and 1950, respectively, Davis Hall and the Food Service Building were completed in 1954 and Zimmerman Hall in 1955.
Western Michigan College officially became Western Michigan University, composed of five schools: Applied Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences and Graduate Studies.
The first classroom building on the West Campus was the Science Building (McCracken Hall) in 1949. The nation's first Printing Management program was started in 1955, and a Paper Industries Laboratory was added to McCracken Hall in 1959 to support the nation's second Paper Technology program. 1957 also saw the completion of the Elmwood Apartments (married student housing), the Theodore S. Henry Hall for Men, the Student Center and the Physical Education Building and Field House (the Gary Center and Read Fieldhouse). Waldo Library was under construction and an addition to McCracken was in planning.
By 1959 the campus of WMU has begun to take the shape we know today, with continued development both north and south of West Michigan Avenue. The completion of a third dormitory, Hoekje Hall, almost finishes the planned cluster around the Student Center. The North Valley Apartments (Goldsworth Valley Apartments) add more married housing, and another Women's Residence Hall (French Hall) is under construction near Davis and Zimmerman Halls.
By 1962, the University was well into an enrollment boom that had been predicted in the late '50s. The Soviet Union's launch of the Sputnik satellite only added to the growing demand for higher education. Enrollment was over 9,000 students, and the projected increases due to the post-War "baby boom" were just about to be felt.
Responding to all these factors, Western had a very ambitious building program throughout the '50s and '60s and into the early '70s. The period from 1948 to 1962 saw the completion of ten additional residence halls, nine apartment units, three classroom buildings, the Administration Building, the Chapel, the Student Center, Waldo Library and the Physical Education Building and Field House. All this to provide for an enrollment increase from 4,000 to 9,000 students. The numbers were expected to double again in the next decade.
Development of both East and West Campuses were fairly consistent in philosophy: academic buildings were clustered and non-academic buildings were located on perimeter areas.
The graphical planning study is composed of colored adhesive film overlaid on a plan of West Campus buildings, roads, and topographic lines. While not dated, the plan depicts ideas first drawn in the early 1960s and then later included in the 1970 Campus Development Plan—the extension of Howard Street north to West Main Street, with West Michigan Avenue terminating in cul-de-sacs on the east and west sides of the campus building core and the building footprints for Rood and Everett Halls.
The 1972 information bulletin shown from the University Physical Plant outlines instructions for vehicle circulation changes to take effect upon the opening of the Howard Street extension between Stadium Drive and West Michigan Avenue, projected for November 1973. When complete, the extension would end at West Main Street to the north.
The 1970 Campus Development Plan spelled out a solution in which West Michigan Avenue, between the Student Services Building (Faunce) and the University Student Center (Bernhard Center), would be ceded to the University and closed to traffic. Howard Street would be extended from Stadium Drive to West Main Street to provide an alternative through-route for city traffic. By 1975, the essential components of this plan had been constructed, although it would take many more years to blur or erase the former streetscape in the center of the campus.
In 1975 the state of Michigan deeded over the former State Psychiatric Hospital farm on the west side of Kalamazoo, at the northeast corner of Drake Road and Parkview Avenue. The Colony Farm Orchard, a tract on the northwest corner of Drake Road and Parkview Avenue, was acquired by WMU in 1977. Together with the Lee Baker Farm, acquired by the University in 1959, these areas became known collectively as the University Farm.
Since being acquired for use by the state in 1887, the hospital farm became known as Asylum Farm or Asylum Lake Farm, although prior to this it was called Fair Oaks. In addition to housing several hundred patients and staff, at its peak of operations the property included 300 Holstein cows, a swine piggery, gardens and orchards, a sewer system, a water tower and a power plant. By 1958, the livestock and farms had become an economic burden and were phased out. In 1969, the remaining patients and staff were moved to the state hospital facilities on Oakland Drive in Kalamazoo.
The 1979 Campus Map outlines the location of the proposed new Fine Arts Building. Construction of the Dorothy Upjohn Dalton Center would be completed in 1982.
The design of the Dalton Center reflects the impact energy reduction regulations had on the architecture of the late '70s and early '80s. It was acknowledged that the energy crisis in the '70s resulted in part because the United States had grown accustomed to unlimited and cheap energy. A variety of construction standards and practices were implemented with the intention of reducing energy consumption.
These practices included lowering the wattage on lighting, making building envelopes "tighter", increasing the amount of insulation and reducing the size and number of exterior windows. Since then, improvements in building materials and technology and new methods of construction do as much or more to reduce energy consumption than any of these measures.
Even though fifteen years have passed since the 1970 Campus Development Plan was approved and West Michigan Avenue was closed, there are few other physical changes on campus. The pedestrian promenade between Sangren Hall and Miller Auditorium has been completed and lined with flowering trees, but roads such as North and South Hayes and North and South Dormitory still criss-cross campus and allow pedestrians and vehicles to mix. The east end of West Michigan Avenue culminates in a parking lot while the west side has become a hodge-podge of the old city street grid, private properties, leased University office space and University parking.
After a long funding drought, several construction and renovation projects came to fruition. The Dorothy U. Dalton Center for the School of Music and the Department of Dance was completed in 1982, and the Fetzer Development Center in 1984. WMU acquired several buildings from the State Psychiatric Hospital, including the Montague House on Oakland Dr. Also, there was an addition and renovation to the Paper Pilot Plant in McCracken Hall.
In 1987, more than 23,000 students were enrolled in WMU. By this time only the College of Business and the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology remained on East Campus. Walwood Union and Dormitory was leased out as fraternity housing. Oakland Gym was home to the University's ROTC programs. The Manual Arts Building housed Physical Plant offices and services. Brink Printing Services occupied the Mechanical Trades Building.
Recent additions to the University included the Dalton Center for the College of Fine Arts, the Fetzer Development Center and the Campus Services Building, while the Montague House, the Linda Richards Building, and the Herman Ostrander Infirmary Building were acquired from the state (former Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital properties).
A former private home on Knollwood Avenue was converted to the Sara Swickard Preschool, and one on Marion Drive, near the Faunce Student Services Building, became the Public Safety Annex (for Parking Services). One of the University's earliest property acquisitions on West Campus, the Arcadia Clubhouse, was still in use as the main Public Safety building.
Planning was well underway for several significant building projects on West Campus. A new building for the College of Business would be located just north of the Fetzer Center. The Home Management House, an earlier acquisition on the corner of what used to be Gilkison and West Michigan Avenues, was razed to make way for a new Honors College building. Lastly, to accommodate an expansion of the Waldo Library and a new Computing Center, Maybee Hall, former home of the School of Music, would be razed.
Throughout the 1990s, Western conducted an aggressive campaign to replace and renovate its aging classroom buildings, most of which were built in the '50s and '60s and were overdue for "re-freshening". The 1994 Campus Map shows the new Student Recreation Center (a remodel and addition to the Gary Physical Education Center), the expanded and remodeled Waldo Library and the new University Computing Center (on the site of the demolished Maybee Hall).
Wood Hall was undergoing total renovation as well, and the adjacent outline of the new science research building is shown. Campus amenities were enhanced by the additional of a parking ramp and bridge to Miller Auditorium. The Shaw Theatre area was expanded and remodeled, and is now the Irving S. Gilmore Center. Walwood was extensively renovated, becoming Walwood Hall, home to the McKee Alumni Center and the Departments of Public Administration and Medieval Studies.
The Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College building was completed in 1990, symbolically located in the center of campus. The new College of Business building, Schneider Hall, was finished in 1991.
The new building for the College of Health and Human Services is located on WMU's Oakland Drive Campus. On the building's east side, a curved glass "curtain wall" faces the Oakland Drive streetscape, while the building's west side and main entrance can be seen on West Campus, when looking across Stadium Drive. The architect of record for the project was SmithGroup of Detroit.
The Oakland Drive Campus is the University's most recent acquisition. Originally state property, the Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital was transferred to Western in 1998. It has proved to be a valuable location for the permanent home for the College of Health and Human Services and for its potential as a resource that WMU can use for expanded research and health care service programs, contributing to Michigan's "Health Care Corridor".
One of the major conclusions of the 1999-2000 planning process was the need to improve the image, appearance and Western identification at the principal entrances to campus. The 2002 West Entrance Development Plan addresses this issue as well as relocating essential visitor destinations, the Admissions Office and the WMU Bookstore.
The first component of the development plan, and the first to be constructed, was a total overhaul of West Michigan Avenue from Howard Street to where it ends in a small cul-de-sac in front of Faunce Student Services Building. The new road design included a boulevard, a roundabout and pedestrian underpasses. Knollwood and Rankin Avenues were adjusted to enter the roundabout, enabling a continuous flow of traffic with no left turns. The roadwork was completed during summer 2004.
The Admissions and Bookstore buildings, Faunce Student Services and Haenicke Hall will form a pedestrian plaza and congregation area. The design also places a Metro transit "hub" just to the north of the bookstore and plaza.
WMU was able to continue work on the building project for a new facility for the College of Health and Human Services due to funding approval prior to cutbacks. The new College of Health and Human Services building, located on the Oakland Drive Campus, was scheduled for completion in the summer of 2005.
Despite the poor budget climate, the University continued to address its classroom and facilities issues. In May 2005, Governor Jennifer Granholm rewarded this with an executive order to start planning for the renovation of Brown Hall, a major classroom building built in 1967.
WMU also kept busy planning a new chemistry classroom building, to be located just east of Wood Hall, and an addition to Kohrman Hall for visual art galleries and classrooms. Groundbreaking for both these structures took place in the spring of 2005.