Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership

Enabling Positive Social Transformation at Every Scale


Kalamazoo / Michigan / USA


Studio Gang Architects


Kalamazoo College


Under Construction; Anticipated Completion 2014

LEED Rating

targeted Gold

Historically, convening for social justice has taken place in informal settings—a church basement, a living room, or even around a kitchen table. The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership brings these discussions up from the basement and squarely into public consciousness.

The Arcus Center works to develop emerging leaders and sustain existing leaders in the fields of human rights and social justice. As a learning environment and meeting space, it brings together students, faculty, visiting scholars, social justice leaders, and members of the public for conversation and activities aimed at creating a more just world.

Supporting this important work, the center’s design is visually open and activated by daylight. The plan encourages convening in configurations that begin to break down psychological and cultural barriers between people and help facilitate understanding. The presence of a living room, hearth, and kitchen for sharing food at the center of the building creates the potential for frequent informal meetings and casual, chance encounters.

The wood masonry utilized for the building’s exterior is a low-tech and relatively inexpensive method of building assembly used to achieve a high-performance facade. The wood walls sequester more carbon than was released in building them, responding to today’s need to reduce carbon pollution—one of many environmental issues embraced by social justice movements.

Selected Publications

2014 Oct 15, New York Times
"Stoking a Hearth for Human Rights"

2014 Jul 1, Architectural Record
"Teaching an Old Material New Tricks"

2013 Apr 24, Design Boom
"Studio Gang: Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Breaks Ground"

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