Construction, Education, and Real Estate

University plans $40M building renovation

February 13, 2019
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WMU Dunbar Hall exterior partial
Courtesy WMU

A university in the region is planning to spend $40 million to renovate a major academic building.

The nearly 50-year-old, 78,000-square-foot Dunbar Hall, one of Western Michigan University's most heavily used classroom buildings and home to more than a dozen academic programs, is undergoing an “overhaul.”

"The building's interior and systems are well beyond their normal lifespan," said David Dakin, director of campus planning, space management and capital projects, WMU.

Renovations will include completely reconfigured classroom layouts, additional student workspaces, major technology upgrades and computer labs. The renovation also includes all-new electrical, mechanical, heating, cooling, fire-suppression and alarm systems. 

The facility is being designed for energy efficiency and sustainability, with the intent to achieve LEED gold certification upon completion.

"Without a doubt, we will benefit from having modern technology in classrooms that will allow our faculty to use innovative, active learning strategies that are difficult to implement in small classrooms designed in the late 1960s," said Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, WMU.

The project is set to begin in the spring 2020, with completion expected in 2022.

About $30 million for the project is coming from the state of Michigan, and $10 million is coming from university fundraising.

Former state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, before her term ended in 2018, led the effort to secure state funding to extensively modernize Dunbar Hall.

Dunbar Hall is home base for the College of Arts and Sciences and is used by many other WMU units. The second most-used teaching facility on campus, in the 2018-19 academic year, the building will have hosted a total of 605 course sections and more than 17,000 students.

In addition to academic programs, classrooms and computer labs, the building also houses WMU's media services department, production studios for broadcasting and other university programs.

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