At the State of the College in 2016, Dean Earlie Washington announced that the second floor of the Ernest Wilbur Building - or EWB - would be renovated and turned into classroom, lab and office space to officially house the new Department of Physical Therapy and provide additional space for other CHHS programs. The EWB was selected after an exhaustive search for space on campus and in downtown Kalamazoo.
In the fifteen months since making that announcement, there has been a great deal of activity in the building. Demolition was completed late last year and construction is well underway on the interior.
The EWB was built in 1962. The scope of the renovation project will also include redesign of the west entrance - the entrance closest to the CHHS building. Designers were asked to not only update the exterior, but use design elements to show the connection between the EWB and the CHHS building.
The EWB's west entrance will utilize several design elements of the CHHS building, which was completed in 2005. New stonework, covered entryway and wooden slats above the windows duplicate those on CHHS building and intrinsically highlight the connection between the two spaces.
The detailed landscaping plan calls for tall evergreen trees to line the south edge of the building as well as 13 different varieties of grasses, shrubs and perennials.
Designers call the interior concept "industrially kinetic."
The concept of industrially kinetic is a response to the building’s story of re-use and revitalization. It celebrates the new program of active learning spaces and showcases flexibility with visual connections to the student activated class lab spaces. “Industrial,” paying homage to the EWB’s history and efficiency reusing existing building components where appropriate. "Kinetic," using contrast and highlight to organize dynamic program elements – establishing a hierarchy of spaces.
The finish materials will also reflect WMU brand identity and sustainably responsible goals.
The project, designed by SmithGroup JJR with construction by AVB Inc., is well underway and on schedule for completion during the summer of 2018.