Western Michigan University


School of Art, Richmond Center for Visual Arts

Kalamazoo, Michigan

45,000 GSF, 4,181 M2

Architecture, Engineering, Interior Architecture, Lighting Design, Programming

Honor Award -- Building, Best New Construction, North American Copper in Architecture Awards, Honor Award

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“"Inside or out, it's a masterpiece."”

—Mark E. Schwerin, Editor, WMU Magazine


Welcomed as a “masterpiece" by the client, this art-and-learning center presents an iconic shape and a soaring, triple-height atrium that make it a literal focal point for the university's fine-arts village. Its monumental folded plane of lapped copper panels reads as a single element that encloses the bright, open interiors. A curved zinc-paneled wall provides visual counterpunch.

The pure magnetism of this sculptural gesture serve a secondary function: to link together other fine-arts facilities using glass “connectors," including a sleek pedestrian bridge. In this way, SmithGroupJJR transcends mere building design and turns this arts center into not only a new “front door" for the arts village but also an urbanizing, galvanizing force for the entire campus.

Inside, the center's layout flows from its exhilarating lobby through to a generous sculpture garden, a student lounge, and exhibit and classroom spaces, including stacked lecture halls. Galleries for permanent and traveling exhibits welcome visitors.

Related Content

WMU Opens Richmond Center
On March 9th 2007 WMU officially opened and dedicated the Richmond Center.