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President's Perspective

  • Author:
    Lou Anna K. Simon
  • Published:
    Spring 2008

            When noted philanthropist and MSU alumnus Eli Broad and his wife Edythe came to us last year with an extraordinary gift—$26 million—to build a new art museum on Michigan State University’s campus, we embarked on a remarkable journey to bring a cornerstone for arts and culture to mid-Michigan. In January, we took the next step on that journey when we announced the winner of the architectural design competition for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum: Zaha Hadid Architects of London.

            The Hadid design was selected from concepts presented to jurors in July by five internationally acclaimed architectural firms. After careful consideration and spirited discussions, the jurors and the members of the University Design Committee agreed that this concept truly captured the spirit of our campus, the East Lansing community, and all that we hoped this building would represent.

            When we outlined the criteria for the design competition, we challenged architects to design a “functional and charismatic” structure; an icon to serve as a flagship building for both the university and the city. We wanted a design that would symbolize MSU’s trajectory into the future but also honor our past and our history.

            It has been said that architecture is inhabited sculpture. I can’t think of a better metaphor for what we want to accomplish with this new museum at MSU. What we asked the architects to design was a great work of art—a sculpture, of sorts—that would house great works of art. I believe that is exactly what we have in the winning design. Zaha Hadid’s concept is bold and creative. It is a beacon for the future of Michigan State University. It is, in and of itself, an extraordinary work of art.

            The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum will make extraordinary art broadly accessible to millions of Michigan citizens as well to visitors from throughout the country and around the world. It will enhance student learning by helping to prepare students for the knowledge economy of the twenty-first century—an education that requires interdisciplinary approaches and creative thinking; an education where art and culture play a critical role. Arts and culture play a critical role not only in preparing students for a global world, but also in nurturing the human spirit, and in enriching the quality of life and economic prosperity in Michigan.

            I know I speak for all of Team MSU when I say that we are enormously grateful for the generosity of the Broads and others who have contributed to this project. We are also grateful for their belief in the incredibly bright future of this institution.

            To see photos and videos of the competition and the winning design, please visit the Special Report at


            Lou Anna K. Simon
            President, Michigan State University