Dunbar Hall to open with innovative learning, technology at center of complete redesign

Contact: Meghan Behymer

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The comprehensive renovation of Western Michigan University's Dunbar Hall is slated for completion in March, with a grand reopening celebration planned for the classroom building in late April.

Reimagined from the ground up, the building features state-of-the-art classrooms, advanced technology integration and dynamic student workspaces that promote active learning and innovation.

“The transformational renovation of Dunbar Hall will provide our students and faculty with a flexible, accessible, welcoming and sustainable learning space, enriching opportunities for innovation, collaboration and academic excellence,” says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It honors our academic heritage while embracing cutting-edge technology and supporting experience-driven learning.”

Central to the renovation is a vision of connectivity and innovation, University officials say. The building's architectural centerpiece is a striking 11,000-square-foot glass addition with a top floor dedicated to the College of Fine Arts' state-of-the-art dance studio. 

“We are thrilled to be part of this wonderful renovation and to be given the opportunity to have this new, incredible dance studio included in Dunbar for our students,” says Dan Guyette, College of Fine Arts dean. “My eternal thanks to Dean Koretsky and Associate Director of Dance Megan Slayter for their shared vision of a penthouse dance studio and to the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation for funding it.”

In addition to the dance studio, Dunbar Hall's reimagined spaces include the Dunbar Media Suite, an interdisciplinary hub equipped with top-of-the-line broadcasting, podcasting and journalism equipment.

An exterior view of Dunbar Hall.

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the outside of Dunbar Hall.

"For students, the Dunbar Media Suite is really going to broaden their understanding of their field and their craft, give them ideas for collaboration and a better understanding of different ways of telling stories,” says Dr. Cynthia Klekar-Cunningham, director of the School of Communication. “Ultimately, this will take our students' experience in the classroom to the next level and prepare them for their careers."

Underpinning the entire project, environmental sustainability is evident throughout the renovation in impressive improvements in energy and water efficiency and innovative features such as living, vegetative roofs and special glass designed to deter bird strikes. These efforts are anticipated to exceed the University's commitment to achieving a minimum of LEED Silver certification for every new building project or comprehensive renovation; Dunbar Hall is boasting a projected LEED Gold certification. WMU partnered with TowerPinkster and HGA on the building’s design.

A grand reopening event is set for Thursday, April 25, at 1:30 p.m. and will include a rededication ceremony followed by a reception, performances by the College of Fine Arts Jazz Combo and guided tours led by student ambassadors from the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Fine Arts.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.