An “Oscar” for a Building to Advance Social Justice

Cheers to an “Oscar” for the construction of a new building uniquely devoted to the advancement of leadership in social justice and human rights! Miller-Davis is proud to announce that Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership was awarded a 2015 Associated General Contractors of America Build America award – considered the “Oscars” of the construction industry.

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.

Miller-Davis constructed the facility utilizing nontraditional construction processes with the purpose of fulfilling the 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.
  • 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 wishbone geometry is an inflected deltoid of unequal sides. One facade bulges to allow a vertical eyelet window and one wing cantilevers over the campus. The radius of the entire facility originates from the hearth of the building – there are no straight lines, no identical steel pieces and extensive curved glazing. Each construction trade, from the foundations, steel, cordwood and finishes, required a keen attention to detail to be executed precisely.

“This unique building is like no other in the area and the innovative design, despite the relative small size of the building, resulted in the most technically complex construction process I have experienced in my 24 years of acting as the College’s representative for major capital projects,” stated Paul Manstrom, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management at Kalamazoo College.

We are honored to be part of the construction team for the Arcus Center, which provides a space to study, meet and host events where students, faculty, visiting scholars, social justice leaders and members of the public will come together to engage in conversation and activities aimed at creating a more just world.

Please contact Miller-Davis Company to help you achieve functional, sustainable, high performing and award-winning facilities.