Albion College in Albion, west of Jackson, has unveiled plans to invest $48 million in the transformation of the former Washington Gardner School into a Body and Soul Center.
The more than 200,000-square-foot Body and Soul Center at Albion College will unite education, wellness, and the arts with experiential learning opportunities for students and members of the Albion community.
Initial phase construction on the center is scheduled to begin this summer, which will include infrastructure, systems, sitework, and some external structural work. The multiphase project will take three to five years to complete.
The new center will include the school’s art, education, theatre, and music departments, and the school’s volleyball and basketball programs. The center is supported by a $1.25 million seed gift from a donor.
“At Albion, we believe it is our responsibility to build a seamless community-campus where all feel at home,” says Mathew Johnson, president of Albion College. “This generous donation will allow us to continue Albion’s commitment to developing the local community and the neighborhood surrounding the Washington Gardner School. As the largest infrastructure improvements at Albion in nearly a decade, we have high expectations for the completed building and the impact it will have on our students, community members and visitors to our campus.”
Acquired by Albion College in 2011, Washington Gardner School has been utilized by the college for flexible meeting, fitness, and presentation spaces.
“The Body and Soul Center is a testament to our commitment to the continued transformation of Albion into a true place of belonging,” says Keena Williams, chief belonging officer at Albion. “Once finished, it will be a place that students can call home, acting as a hub for creativity, collaboration, and overall well-being. We are eager to create more spaces on campus that deepen the college’s connection to our growing community and directly reflects our core values of purpose, belonging and action.”
The Body and Soul Center is designed to provide opportunities to foster existing relationships and develop new partnerships with local organizations and youth programs, strengthening the College’s relationship with the community. The Battle Creek YMCA and Albion College have partnered to offer recreational programs such as youth sports, swimming lessons, fitness classes, and youth mentoring programs.
Additionally, the center’s integration of art, music, and theatre under one roof will allow students to take full advantage of flexible, full-service space and participate in various interdisciplinary, experiential learning activities.