Albion College to Begin $48 Million Redevelopment of Washington Gardner as Body and Soul Center

Former high school will be transformed into an integrated arts and wellness center for the college and the community.

May 11, 2021

Architectural eendering of the outside of the new Body & Soul Center.

Acquired by Albion College in 2011, the long-term vision to transform the Washington Gardner School into a true campus and community destination has been many years in the making.

Architectural Rendering of the inside of the new Body & Soul Center.

The 200,000+ square-foot Body & Soul Center will unite education, wellness and the arts with experiential learning opportunities for students and members of the Albion community.

Last week, Albion College unveiled plans to transform the former Washington Gardner School into the innovative Body and Soul Center. The new 200,000+ square-foot center will unite education, wellness and the arts with experiential learning opportunities for students and members of the Albion community. Albion College President Dr. Mathew Johnson made the announcement.

The Body and Soul Center at Albion College will include a number of academic departments including art, education, theatre, music and the School’s volleyball and basketball programs. The center is supported by over $6 million in gifts, including a just-announced $1.25 million gift from a generous donor, part of a total investment of $48 million to renovate the existing building and expand square footage to create a shared space that meets the needs of the college and the Albion community. 

“At Albion, we believe it is our responsibility to build a seamless community-campus where all feel at home. These generous donations will allow us to continue Albion’s commitment to developing the local community and the neighborhood surrounding the Washington Gardner School,” said Dr. Johnson. “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 long-term vision to transform this building into a true campus-community destination has been many years in the making. 

“The Body and Soul Center is a testament to our commitment to the continued transformation of Albion into a true place of belonging,” said Keena Williams, Chief Belonging Officer at Albion College. “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 will 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 allows students to take full advantage of flexible, full-service space and participate in various interdisciplinary, experiential learning activities.

Construction on the Body and Soul Center is scheduled to begin in Summer of 2021, with the initial phase, including infrastructure, systems, sitework and some external structural work. The multiphase project will take 3-5 years to complete. 

Albion College is a private liberal arts college of approximately 1,500 students and is nationally recognized for its academic excellence in the liberal arts tradition, a learning-centered commitment and a future-oriented perspective. The College is a leader in preparing students to anticipate, solve and prevent problems in order to improve the human and global condition. Albion immerses students in the creation and processing of knowledge and graduates skilled architects of societal change, active citizens and future leaders. The College is dedicated to the highest quality in undergraduate education and is committed to diversity as a core institutional value.

Albion, Michigan is a culturally diverse community in the south-central part of the state. The College recognizes the value of community, both on- and off-campus and has invested resources in supporting the revitalization of the greater Albion community. This work offers an increasingly vibrant city around the campus that provides students with a fuller experience as they prepare to become engaged citizens in their own communities. For more information, visit albion.edu.