Western's first construction project on the north side of West Michigan Avenue was the Student Center, which would replace Walwood Union as the social center of campus, and four residence halls. A unique feature of this building group were the enclosed corridors, known as "food tubes", connecting the buildings with the dining halls on the north side of the Student Center. One large kitchen for all four dining halls was also located in the Center. The south side of the Center contained all the public and commerical spaces, including a cafeteria, offices, meeting rooms, a bowling alley, and a barber shop.
The first "leg" of the Student Center project was Ellsworth Hall, completed in 1956. This was followed by the Student Center and Henry Hall in 1957, Hoekje Hall in 1959 and Bigelow Hall in 1961.
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Ralph R. Calder was the architect and designer for most of the housing on West Campus, including the Student Center/housing complex shown above. (The only exceptions are the Stadium Drive Apartments, which were designed by Norman Carver, Jr., with Kingscott Architects.)
Calder was responsible for several other significant buildings on campus, including the Kanley Chapel, the Seibert Administration Building, and the original construction of Waldo Library, Gary Physical Education Center and Read Fieldhouse. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Calder founded Ralph Calder & Associates in 1945. The firm contributed to many of the state's university projects through the mid-1990s.