The Shaw Lane Power Plant was an operational coal-fired power plant that served the Michigan State University (MSU) campus from the mid-1940s through the 1960s. Since that time, it has been shutdown but the building itself had been left intact, housing all the industrial yet intricate boilers, coal hoppers and various other structure and equipment that once made this an integral part of the daily operations of the MSU Campus. Situated adjacent to the campus’s iconic football stadium, the Power Plant Structure has become a recognizable landmark for students and game day spectators alike.
Over the years, MSU has considered various opportunities to revitalize and repurpose this structure into a useful campus building. The opportunity ultimately presented itself in parallel to the construction of a new, state of the art STEM teaching facility for undergraduate studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curricula. The STEM building is constructed to the North and South ends of the Power Plant, utilizing the revitalized Power Plant building as a central hub that not only physically connects the STEM program but also draws participation from the larger campus network of students and faculty to promote increased opportunities for interdisciplinary interaction.
The juxtaposition of new and old, industrial, and digital, is a driving factor of the design of the Power Plant program and interior space. The first floor is programmed to be a large student commons area that can serve as a multifunctional art gallery for University programmed science and art gallery events. Centrally located inside the building, an original three-story coal-fired boiler is being carved out and refurbished to house a permanent digital art installation.