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New plans for birthplace of Western Michigan Unversity | Arts & Culture

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New plans for birthplace of Western Michigan Unversity
New plans for birthplace of Western Michigan Unversity

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The birthplace of Western Michigan University will soon be transformed.

This week, construction crews are removing hazardous materials and retrieving historic architecture from East Hall, which will soon become WMU’s new alumni center.  TowerPinkster plans to preserve historic elements of East Hall, including the cupola, pillars and central staircase.   Starting August 1, workers will begin moving historic documents housed in the facility over to the new Zhang Legacy Collections Center.   Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2014 and last about a year.

Executive Director of University Relations Cheryl Roland says the abatement process will likely take three to four weeks, while developer TowerPinkster begins creating a blueprint for the 34,000 square foot alumni center.  Roland says TowerPinkster plans to hold community forums to narrow down their design plan; the first meeting will likely be in September.

WMU is borrowing $15 million for the project, which also includes demolishing WMU’s West Hall, North Hall and Speech and Hearing Center, which are not being used.  Roland says the demolition plans were made public in December 2012, so the community could prepare for the changes.  Demolition is expected to start in late September.

East Hall was completed in 1905, when WMU was known as Western State Normal School.  The facility, which sits atop Prospect Hill, joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

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