Sangren Hall

Multi-purpose facility drives Western Michigan University's new master plan.

WMU's new Sangren Hall replaces the orignal built in 1964 with 78% of the original strucure recycled in to the new. This new 230,000 square foot, high performance facility houses 50 classrooms of various sizes; two, 200-seat auditoriums, an education library and other university offices.


, Kalamazoo, Michigan


Western Michigan University


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Western Michigan University’s new Sangren Hall has literally and figuratively transformed WMU’s campus core. Designed by SHW Group, the new $60 million facility is the result of years of campaigning, fundraising and planning.

Situated on 8.66 acres in the heart of campus, the new Sangren Hall houses the College of Education and Human Development and the Department of Sociology and replaces the original Sangren Hall, which was completed in 1964. With 30 percent more seats than the former facility, the new building is expected to carry on the original Sangren Hall’s legacy as one of the university’s most heavily utilized classroom buildings. It is predicted that nearly every student who graduates with a four year degree from WMU will have had at least one class in this building.

Inside the 230,000-square-foot, four-story facility are 50 classrooms with 2,435 instructional seats; two 200-seat auditoriums, an education library, a grants and research center, and office and clinical space for programs including the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services Clinic, the Kercher Center for Social Research and the Dorothy J. McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic.

The new Sangren Hall is driven by the University’s master plan which aims to create a centralized area by converting Michigan Avenue from a parking lot into a pedestrian mall. Working with the plans for the campus mall, SHW Group designed the new Sangren Hall to act as a physical boundary for the mall, creating a strong edge and reinforcing the mall concept. A two-story promenade on the first floor parallels the mall and houses a number of classrooms and lecture rooms for campus-wide use.

SERF-Sangren-Hall-classroom-sm1As a central, heavily utilized building, access was another important factor to university planners. As such, SHW Group designed the building nestled into a hillside to allow for access at different levels and from different directions.

The building is designed to meet the needs of 21st century students while accommodating for a wide variety of learning styles. For this reason, a variety of spaces – from small classrooms, to large auditoriums, to breakout areas – are incorporated throughout the building. In addition, specialized rooms, such as model K-12 classrooms with attached observation rooms, are incorporated to meet the needs of the college of education students.

SERF-Sangren-Hall-interior-sm1The design takes collaborative space to a new level by incorporating flexible elements throughout the project and integrating opportunities for informal learning into the building circulation. Collaborative learning spaces are situated outside of every classroom and banquette seating featuring embedded technology is placed throughout. In addition, all corridors incorporate a playful notion of seating with both small and large configurations for group and individual study. Enclosed rooms located on the first and fourth floors can be utilized by small groups or for individual study. In addition, classrooms and auditoriums feature highly efficient and flexible configurations to allow students and teachers to adjust the room based on its users needs.

The building also is designed to accommodate the technology needs of 21st century students. A dedicated media lab features a large screen where students can plug in personal digital devices to display presentations to the entire class. Separate meeting rooms for small group study in the library feature similar screens.

SERF-Sangren-Hall-cafeteria-sm1Sangren Hall is an exceptional study in sustainability as well. Designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification, the building is expected to save $345,000 annually on energy costs over the old Sangren Hall. Furthermore, compared to the ASHRAE standard building, Sangren Hall uses 30 to 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water.

Sustainable features include:

  • Live roof featuring alternating bands of color to coordinate with building design
  • Energy recovery system
  • High-performance building enclosure
  • High-efficiency motors
  • New efficient chilled water plant
  • Demand-control ventilation
  • Water-efficient plumbing fixtures
  • Daylight harvesting
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Occupancy sensors
  • Solar-shading devices
  • Sustainable materials like terrazzo and cork floors and bamboo-wood walls
  • Low-VOC interior finishes
  • 78 percent of construction debris recycled
  • On-site stormwater management system
  • Preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Bike racks and changing showers/facilites


In addition, a photo-voltaic panel array for the roof, which is currently finalizing design, will provide a portion of the electricity used by the building.

Sangren Hall fulfills WMU’s goal to have all campus buildings utilize Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM allows the design and engineering team to capture and analyze concepts and maintain consistency through design, documentation, and construction. BIM acts as the cornerstone of an integrated building lifecycle management process, allowing facility managers to utilize the information stored in the model for ongoing building operation and maintenance.