Kalamazoo College's Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (The Arcus Center) is the world's first purpose-built structure dedicated to developing emerging leaders and sustaining existing leaders in the fields of human rights and social justice.
This one-of-a-kind $5 million, 10,000 square foot, Y-shaped, steel-frame, single-story pavilion embodies the College's founding commitment to be a catalyst for positive social change and will serve as the hearth for social justice globally.
The Arcus Center is located on a tight, sloped site, on the corner of a major campus intersection. The building was constructed utilizing nontraditional construction processes with the purpose of fulfilling its principles of economic, social and environmental justice.
Michigan-sourced White Cedar was used to construct the cordwood masonry exterior. 2,000 logs were cut into 16,000 pieces and set in mortar to look like a brick wall. Each log has its own unique color, shape, and size, reflecting the diversity of the population that the Arcus Center will serve. In addition, this is the largest commercial application of cordwood construction in the United States. The building incorporates sustainable building practices and is expected achieve LEED Gold Certification.
One of the primary objectives for this project was to assist in the creation of a vibrant, high-performing, diverse workforce that would set the standard for the College as well as the entire region for racial and gender equity. Miller-Davis Company assimilated the Arcus Center's workforce diversity expectations into the entire construction process by establishing goals, developing and implementing strategies and formulating a tracking mechanism for measurable results - all accomplished without impacting project cost.
The architect is Studio Gang Architects. Jeanne Gang, a principal and the founder of Studio Gang Architects, is a 2011 MacArthur Fellow - "genius grant" recipient.
Here is a peek into the construction of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership building.