The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 29, 2015

New residence hall going up at WMU

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

KALAMAZOO - Western Michigan University calls it "the next generation of university living."

Miller Davis, its subcontractors and the building trades are erecting "Western Heights," a new four-level housing complex that will be home this fall to brand new space for freshmen Broncos.

"Located in the Center Residential Neighborhood at the heart of the WMU campus, the new complex will be home to approximately 750 students," WMU said. "The complex is targeted at new students and designed to encourage social engagement and provide an innovative living experience."

Western Heights, which got its name from a student contest, is the first residence hall of its type in Michigan. The price tag is about $48 million.

"Western Heights Residence Halls feature a new concept in student living on the Western Michigan University campus," said Doug Lloyd, project architect in the WMU's projects/construction division, to School Construction News. "The facility is designed to encourage social interaction among the freshman students through the design concept of living pods, creating a sense of identity and community within the living spaces with accessible adjacent public spaces, large and small. The Western Heights Residence Halls are comprised of two separate, four-story buildings of precast concrete construction, housing a total of 776 beds within 191,560 square feet. This project is currently tracking LEED Gold certification."

The design for Western Heights is intended to build multiple levels of community engagement and facilitate academic success. Each living area is arranged into houses of 30-35 students on each floor with a kitchen and study area, plus centrally private bathrooms maintained by staff. Central community spaces on four levels feature laundry and study areas, an open-air terrace, plus entertainment and game rooms.

According to Miller Davis, each floor will have three residential wings, which will extend out from the central common space, in an open "House" fashion. Each house will consist of double occupancy bedrooms, and will share a restroom, kitchen, study space and living room.

CUTTING BRICK at the Western Heights Residence Hall at Western Michigan University is Paul Kelley of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 2. He’s working for Schiffer Mason Contractors.

WE FOUND Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 357 members (l-r) Joe Worley and Joe Meier at the end of their shift and asked them to stand near some of their nicely crafted handiwork in a mechanical room at the WMU residence hall. Behind them is piping for hot water, steam, domestic water – “a little bit of everything,” Worley said. They’re employed by R.W. LaPine Mechanical Contractors.

WORKING ON A DUCT in a fourth floor common area at the new WMU Western Heights Residence Hall are (l-r) Jeff Seiser and Troy Cable of Sheet Metal Workers Local 7. They’re employed by Mall City Mechanical.