arcus center by studio gang provides open forum for social justice
photo by steve hall © hedrich blessing
all images courtesy of studio gang architects

 

 

 

the ‘arcus center for social justice leadership’ provides an open and public facility on the university campus of kalamazoo college, in michigan, USA, for promotion of civil equity discussions. the building was designed by studio gang architects, and takes a tri-axial shape for multidirectional access and views to the surrounding context. the center is comprised of a flexible central area that accommodates exhibitions or lectures, as well as a series of flanking semi-private spaces for study and meetings.

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

the arcus center is sited in a suburban context in kalamazoo, michigan, USA
photo © iwan baan

 

 

 

studio gang describes that traditionally, ‘convening for social justice has taken place in the most informal settings, with many of this nation’s most important civil rights gatherings, for example, taking place in a church basement, a living room, or even around a kitchen table.’ in seeking to subvert this history, the arcus center provides an open and public facility for use by students, teachers, visiting scholars, social justice leaders, and members of the community for, ‘conversation and activities aimed at creating a more just world.’

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

the building’s tri-axial shape allows for multidirectional access and views to the surrounding context
photo by steve hall © hedrich blessing

 

 

 

the structure’s form directs views to the surrounding suburban context in three different directions, while simultaneously shaping outdoor spaces and creating two open entrances accessing the building’s center. the exterior surfaces utilize a regionally traditional wood masonry cladding. the stacked arrangement of circular log sections uses the same logic as standard brick façades, but allows for higher environmental performance while referencing the tree groves surrounding the structure.

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

the exterior surfaces utilize a regionally traditional wood masonry cladding
photo by steve hall © hedrich blessing

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

the structure cantilevers on one side to frame a view outward
photo by steve hall © hedrich blessing

 

 

 

in order to enhance the building’s openness, the interior is left visually transparent while featuring plentiful daylight. the tri-axial plan is arranged around a central living room-like lounge and fireplace. a kitchen sits adjacent, to provide an informal place for communal eating, complementing the more formal meeting and study spaces.

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

glass partitions enclose meeting spaces flanking the central communal area
photo by steve hall © hedrich blessing

 

 

 

in continuation of the building’s socially-focused aims, the architects state: ‘informed by the tenet that in a socially just world each person’s life is valued and their inherent dignity is recognized, the arcus center demonstrates that spaces for convening can and should be some of our most powerful.’

 

see here for designboom’s initial coverage of the project, at the time of its ground breaking.

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

the tri-axial plan is organized around a recessed lounge area and adjacent kitchen
photo by steve hall © hedrich blessing

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

a view toward the wooded context serves as a backdrop for lectures and discussions
photo by steve hall © hedrich blessing

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

additional semi-private study areas
photo © iwan baan

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

the building form peels apart to create a window
photo © iwan baan

studio gang arcus center for social justice leadership designboom

photo © iwan baan

 

 

 

 

project info:

 

location: kalamazoo, michigan, USA
status: opened september 19, 2014
size: 10,000 sqf
LEED rating: targeted gold
owner: kalamazoo college
architecture: studio gang architects
photography: iwan baan, hedrich blessing