Bronson Completes Restoration of Former Upjohn Headquarters in Downtown Kalamazoo

June 25, 2008

A treasured part of Kalamazoo’s past is being brought back to life as Bronson Healthcare Group, the Bronson Health Foundation, and Bronson Research prepare to occupy the newly restored Upjohn Company headquarters building in downtown Kalamazoo. The structure, located at 301 John (formerly Henrietta) Street and previously known as Building 24, was donated to Bronson by Pfizer, Inc. in 2005. Bronson has subsequently invested $6.6 million to restore the community landmark.

“The building has been part of the fabric of downtown Kalamazoo for years and has meaning to generations of local citizens,” said Frank J. Sardone, Bronson president and CEO. “As a neighbor to this structure for more than 70 years, the location is a perfect fit with Bronson’s campus and, as downtown Kalamazoo’s largest employer, gives us much needed room to accommodate the tremendous growth we’ve been experiencing. We thank Pfizer for entrusting this treasured piece of downtown to us. It has been a privilege to restore it for another era of service to the community.”

The restoration project gives new life to a building that served as The Upjohn Company’s global headquarters from 1936 – 1961 and continued to be used for research offices until 2004. The 48,000 square foot, four-level office building was structurally sound when Bronson acquired it. However, the building’s infrastructure needed a considerable amount of updating, including the mechanical, electrical, sewer, and gas systems, as well as asbestos removal and the addition of energy efficient windows.

Along with making these updates, Bronson was committed to preserving the integrity of the facility’s design as well as its legacy in the community – which includes keeping The Upjohn Company name on the building. The goal was to utilize the structure as it was while preserving interior partitioning. The result is an interior designed in the spirit of the 1930s, keeping original elements where possible. The interior incorporates the “streamline industrial” stylistic element of the era while maintaining the warm, holistic facility design Bronson has become known for with light, art, music and natural elements.

SKP Design of Kalamazoo worked with Bronson to create the history-preserving interior and was aided by photographs from the office of renowned industrial architect Albert Kahn, who designed the building. Albert Kahn’s prolific work dots the Michigan landscape and includes Detroit’s first auto plants for the Packard Motor Car Company, Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park and Ford Rouge plants, Clements Library and Angell Hall at the University of Michigan, and the 28-story Fisher Building in Detroit, among others

SKP Design utilized the early photos to bring back design elements from the 1930s that were original to the building. Several original photos of the building will be permanently displayed in the lobby.

“This opportunity was unique for us,” said Sondra Philips, SKP Design principal/owner. “Acquiring interior photographs of what buildings looked like originally is quite rare. It’s more common to only have exterior shots. While SKP Design has designed many office spaces, it is not often that we get to work inside historically significant buildings, especially historic buildings with a modern design style.”

In addition to SKP Design, the construction management company for the project is CSM Group of Kalamazoo and the architect is Diekema Hamann Architecture + Engineering, also of Kalamazoo.

The $6.6 million Bronson has invested in restoring this community landmark to useable office space is another reflection of the organization’s longstanding commitment to downtown Kalamazoo. This project, along with the recently completed $6.8 million Bronson Advanced Radiology Services building on South Park Street, brings Bronson’s total reinvestment in its downtown facilities to more than a quarter billion dollars over the last decade.