Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan
330,000 square feet
The S/L/A/M Collaborative
Construction Management

In the fall of 2014, Western Michigan University welcomed students into its new Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, located in a former pharmaceutical research building in downtown Kalamazoo, Mich. The building’s transformation was made possible, in part, through MPI Research’s donation of the eight-story building, the participation of local teaching hospitals Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare, through donor gifts and endowment income, and WMU’s commitment to expanded programming.

Walbridge served as construction manager on the job, alongside architects the S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM) and Diekema Hamann (DH). Together, the team converted a drab, 30-year-old building into an award-winning, state-of-the-art medical school, named after medical technology pioneer Homer Stryker.

Featuring a three-story atrium that connects the main building to a new three-story coned-shaped addition, a 22,000-square-foot medical simulation laboratory and a grand seven-story stairway, the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine has won awards for its stunning appearance and the teamwork that made it all possible.

Challenges and Solutions

Walbridge demolished 60 percent of the building interior while keeping utility systems operational, a large section of the building’s second floor was removed to make room for a new two-story auditorium. The auditorium features six skybox rooms that overhang the auditorium. For the new atrium on the north end of the building the team was tasked with tying into the existing structural system. Challenges arose when teams discovered locations and quantities of structural elements that did not match the as-built documentation.

The team removed 20 percent of the building’s existing façade to build the addition. The new façade is comprised of glass and zinc panels and composite metal panels; while the glass panels were straight cut, everything else was curved both vertically and horizontally, calling for precise and careful execution.

Using Walbridge’s laser-scan documentation, DH developed 500-Level BIM models of the entire structure, including as-built and equipment records, and turned it over to WMU following project completion. The models assisted greatly during construction, but they were also specifically designed to provide assistance in any forthcoming work on the building.

Four levels of former laboratory and administration space has been converted into instructional space, student life space and new administrative office space. The building’s seventh floor holds a 12-cadaver anatomy lab and pathology suite, as well as a medical examiner’s office fully-accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). The new medical school is a major contributor to the revitalization of downtown Kalamazoo, expected to bring 200-300 jobs to the city.