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Western Michigan University seeks input on East Hall revamp plan

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Artist's rendering of the side view of the restored East Hall with one of the new additions in the forefront.
The view from 10,000 feet.
Western Michigan Normal School the way it looked originally.
Architect's rendering of the face that would be viewed by the city with the new wings attached.
Artist's rendering of the side view of the restored East Hall with one of the new additions in the forefront.

KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- A tentative design for East Hall on WMU’s historic East Campus has been revealed and a lot of those who have been fighting to save the place are once again disappointed.

As we reported earlier this month, the University was unable to come up with the funding to save the original wings on East Hall. The design their architects came up with instead was met with sharp criticism by many who attended a town forum on the issue Tuesday.

In place of the wings were modern looking boxes of glass and cement. Critics called them “ugly”, “inappropriate” “truncated appendages” and retired university administrator Tom Coyne called them “batwings”.

Tower Pinkster is handling the design. They say the additions make it clear where the historic building begins and ends and the new additions make it easier to add an elevator and modern bathrooms.

Coyne says the best way to preserve the historic integrity of the building is to stick to its original floor plan. He says he has faith the designers can figure out a way to install modern bathrooms and an elevator in the original footprint of the building.

Others said that if the architects insist on the additional wings, they should at least be constructed from recycled materials preserved from the current wings and have the same historic architectural features.

There were some at the forum who liked the new design. 

No opposition was expressed to the University’s plans for the interior of the structure. It would be filled with public meeting spaces, conference rooms, a library, a large banquet facility that could be used for alumni gatherings, weddings and other community events.

It would also include office facilities for the Alumni staff. The trees on prospect hill would be cleared to restore the view of the city from East Hall.

This latest design would also preserve the portico of North Hall in its original spot.

They plan a third and final public forum in March, and hope to begin construction in May.

You can see the complete presentation and give public comment online on the proposed design at Mywmu.com/alumnicenter.

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