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The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College is the result of a holistic approach to communicating vision/mission through design, respecting social equality and site context, and promoting environmental stewardship.


The small site included challenging topography and the need to bridge an historic College campus with a 10,000 square foot tri-axial building designed by architect Studio Gang of Chicago. The resulting design by VIRIDIS Design Group incorporated universal accessibility, inclusive design, green infrastructure, and seamless visual and physical connections to the adjacent historic campus, Victorian-style residential neighborhood, and Bur Oak savanna. 


Key to the project was stormwater management.  Through permeable pavements and bio-infiltrating landscape treatments, VIRIDIS moved all stormwater through the designed soil profile into a zero-release stormwater management system with no connection to the municipal storm systems.


Location:  Kalamazoo, Michigan

Size: 1 Acre

Client:Kalamazoo College

Completion Date: 2014

Collaborative Team: Studio Gang


Merit Award for Design, ASLA Michigan Chapter, 2017

Responding to 14 foot difference in grade between existing and proposed, VIRIDIS designed the pinnacle of the project, the “stramp” - a stair/ramp not exceeding 5% slopes.  As a complement to the building, this component was monumental and acted as a campus gathering area, provided a route for individuals of all physical abilities, and transitioned the grade change. The constructability of the structure was a significant design challenge; VIRIDIS ensured minimal/aesthetic jointing, permeable pavement infiltration, and created unique transitions between the hardscape and landscape.

VIRIDIS melded the vision of the architect with the realities of the site while meeting the College’s mission of providing a socially-just environment that recognizes the inherent dignity of all people.

Concept Plan_30x42.jpg
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