New Green Spaces, Signage Greet New Semester

September 3, 2021

Bonta Admission Center with new sign

Signs made of corten steel were recently installed outside Bonta and other campus buildings along Ditzler Way and East Michigan Avenue. The number one at top left references the building number on the Albion campus map. “The introduction of the hexagonal design feature,” says Chief Planning Officer Dr. Ray Barclay, “already present in many other locations around campus, reflects our commitment to being a resilient community. The hexagon is the strongest shape and is often used to represent collective and community effort because of its reference to a beehive.”

Jackson Street green space, Albion College, September 2021

The conversion to green space of Jackson Street from the corner of Cass and Mingo streets into campus is under way. For perspective, Mitchell Towers is at left, James Welton House is in the center of the photo, and Bobbitt Visual Arts Center is in the distance at right.

By Ariel Berry

Green space where there once was asphalt. New signs in front of campus buildings. Revitalized landscaping. These are just some of the recent beautification projects that are part of Albion College’s Campus Comprehensive Plan, which has been in development over the last several months and will be released soon in its final form.

“The Plan seeks to create a sense of openness, accessibility, coherence and connectedness in our landscape and grounds initiatives,” says Dr. Raymond Barclay, chief planning officer. “There are a variety of efforts underway to help enhance the look and feel of the campus, increase vibrancy and engagement among students, create greater community access to campus, and further our sustainability and belonging efforts.”

As part of the Plan, green space has replaced Perry Street from Ditzler Way to Ingham Street, behind the Bobbitt Visual Arts Center. More green space is being created on Jackson Street from Mingo Street into campus, alongside Mitchell Towers. Additionally, the sand parking lot by the fraternities on East Porter Street will be replaced with green space.

New signage has been introduced in front of College buildings on East Michigan Avenue and Ditzler Way. Michigan Imagery, a metalwork and design company in Lansing, Michigan, created the new signs. “The firm is committed to more than large-scale cookie-cutter machining, but creating sculptural forms and design elements that are unique,” Barclay explains. “The goal was to create something that was one-of-a-kind and meshed with the landscape strategies underway as well as the earthen hues of the campus buildings.”

The signs are made from corten steel, which develops a self-protecting and decorative rust, shielding it from the elements and creating an artistic patina. “The use of steel harkens to the foundry history of the City of Albion,” Barclay says.

Beyond Beautification

The Campus Comprehensive Plan works not only to make campus more beautiful, but also more accessible. The entrance to Seaton Hall is set to be remodeled to improve accessibility. Deteriorating sections of sidewalks on the Quad have been repaired or replaced, improving access for wheelchairs and eliminating tripping hazards. The Quad also has been improved through tree trimming and shrub removal. Ian Lee, ’23, an Admission Office tour guide, mentions that visitors are noticing the efforts: “Trimming the trees and fixing the sidewalks are fantastic ideas,” he says.

Campus beautification also has a beneficial effect on student mental health, according to Barclay. “The American Society of Landscape Architects highlights that design can promote human health and well-being by encouraging the development of environments that offer rich social, economic, and environmental benefits,” he says, adding that welcoming spaces help students feel more at home, and added natural elements promote relaxation.

The entries of Munger Hall, Wesley Hall, Seely-Berkey House, the President’s House, Ingham Hall and Bonta Admission Center are all scheduled to be cleaned and spruced up to be more inviting toward students and guests. New benches and trash receptacles are being placed around campus as well, providing spaces to safely socialize and helping to keep the campus clean.

“I believe this will allow students to further foster the feeling of pride they have with attending Albion College,” says tour guide Alexis De La Cruz, ’22, of the improvements. “The image fits the description that all students give to their friends or family when they ask, ‘What is Albion like?’ We reply with, ‘It is a small but beautiful campus.’”

The goal of the Campus Comprehensive Plan is to make campus even more beautiful, accessible and inviting for all of Albion College and the surrounding community. Barclay explains that the Plan “will engage more sustainable practices while balancing beautification and greater usage and functionality. And we’re already seeing this thanks to the amazing job of our Facilities and Grounds teams, and the leadership of Director of Grounds John Hibbs. It will be exciting to see what they achieve in the months ahead.”

With the Plan already in motion, campus is becoming a more welcoming place for students to call home.