Western Michigan University
David W. Dakin II, AIA, AUA
Director- Campus Planning
O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock & Associates, Inc. (OCBA) was retained by Western Michigan University (WMU) to develop a master plan for the iconic Fountain Plaza in the heart of WMU’s main campus. The plaza is a gathering place for both students and the community as it is adjacent to Miller Auditorium, a premier performing arts venue in West Michigan. Over the years the once well-designed public space had evolved into a vast expanse of concrete paving, and WMU turned to OCBA to create a vibrant and elegant design that would accommodate high levels of pedestrian traffic while offering a variety of seating niches scaled for use by small groups and individuals.
Working closely with WMU’s Campus Planning Department, OCBA created a “river” of pavement that flows through the large plaza space and ties together the many surrounding disparate buildings and amenities. Large lawn areas with shade trees offer curvilinear seat walls for seating along the edges of the circulation corridor. OCBA also worked with Landscape Forms Studio 43 to design custom shade and gateway structures. The entire project was initially designed to be constructed in phases, but the custom structures are the only components that were not included in the initial implementation.