Tod R. Stevens, AIA

Learning Practice Leader

Designing with Students in Mind
The days of static campus buildings are long gone. Today’s students and faculty require flexible spaces that adapt to and actively support the learning process. They expect to see a school’s mission and values reflected in the places they learn and live. Creating a sense of belonging and purpose is more important than ever before.
Preparing Students for Technical Jobs
The future of technical education looks far different than the dark, cramped spaces of the past. Higher education organizations are investing in the advanced manufacturing centers of the future.
From advanced manufacturing centers to state-of-the-art science buildings, we work to create academic spaces that are flexible, sustainable and will remain relevant far into the future.
Changing Expectations in Student Dining
Campus life often mirrors that of the greater world. As individuals and organizations continue to champion more sustainable practices in how and what we eat, those same ideals have found their way onto campuses. 

Much like cafés and coffee shops, dining halls have become a destination for group and individual study, meetings between students and professors, and a catalyst for community engagement. Flexibility to use these spaces when and how they need is vital to today’s students.

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Housing. It's More Than a Place to Live.
Housing is personal. It is where life-long friendships are made. Creating spaces that are safe, comfortable, supportive, and encourage interactions among students are key to long-term success and can play a role in student retention. 
We have worked with clients throughout the country on a variety of housing projects — from renovating existing facilities, to designing new residence halls, apartments and townhomes.
"We've trusted them and they've worked well with us so it was an easy selection for us to choose them to help design and build the Hanson Technology Center."

Image: Cornerstone University, Jack and Mary De Witt Center for Science and Technology, Grand Rapids, MI

Image: Lake Michigan College, Hanson Technology Center, Benton Harbor, MI

Image: University of North Florida, Osprey Commons, Jacksonville, FL

Image: Ferris State University, North Residence Hall, Big Rapids, MI

Seth Horton, PE

Senior Project Manager

Sara Bergakker, PE

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Chad Gould, AIA

Senior Design Architect

Jessica Griffis, IIDA

Senior Interior Designer

Tom Frey, PE

Senior Project Manager

We're here to help! Click on a team member to learn more.
We believe in the power of education. We also know the role design plays in shaping experiences. 
Good design can inspire the mind, fuel discovery and promote engagement.

Five Things Higher Education Can Learn from the Corporate Workplace

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Renovating the Traditional University Mid-Century Building

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Saving Money and Energy with Window Shading

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A Thoughtful Approach 
to School Security


Bridging the Skilled Trades Gap

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The Pedagogy of Digital

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Implementing a Universal Design Strategy in Your Organization


Universal Design: It's a Wonderful World

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Housing for Today's Students


How to Design a Facility 
for Everyone

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Learning Brochure
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Image: Mary Free Bed YMCA, Grand Rapids, MI

Inclusive design, also known as Universal Design, is the act of creating spaces that can be used and accessed by everyone. In fact, it often goes further than the American’s with Disability Act to develop a sense of equality among users. We’re experts in the field of Universal Design and our work has been internationally recognized for its dedication to access for all.
Equity in Design
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We're Proud to Have Worked With

Schools Across the Country

Adrian College
Alma College
Alpena Community College*
Aquinas College
Baker College
Bay de Noc Community College
Brookhaven College*
Calvin College
Central Michigan University
Cooley Law School
Cornerstone University
Eastern Michigan University
Ferris State University 

Grand Rapids Community College
Grand Valley State University
Hillsdale College
Hohai University* 

Hope College
Jackson College*
Kettering University*
Lake Michigan College
Lake Superior State University
Lansing Community College*
Lawrence Technological University*
Michigan State University
Michigan Tech University

Missouri State University
Montcalm Community College
North Central Michigan College*
Northwood University
Oakland University
Old Dominion University*
Olivet College
Pikes Peak Community College* 

Saginaw Valley State University 
Schoolcraft College*
St. Clair Community College*
St. John Fisher College*
Southwestern Michigan College

 University of Alabama*
University of Michigan*
University of Nebraska Lincoln*
University of North Florida
University of Notre Dame
University of Texas*
Washburn University*
Wayne County Community College*
Wayne State University
Western Michigan University

* Tod Stevens’ prior affiliations

A new podcast from Progressive AE.

 The Design Slate podcast brings together design experts and higher education professionals to discuss recent trends, challenges, and the future of higher education. Nothing is off the table here.

WATCH: Click each person to learn more.

Recent Episodes

See more episodes.

We're passionate about creating learning environments that inspire.

Sara Bergakker

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Seth Horton

Senior Project Manager

Jessica Griffis

Senior Interior Designer

Tod Stevens

Learning Practice Leader

Advancing Academic Excellence


The Elephant In the Room; COVID-19. Host Tod Stevens talks COVID-19 with Dr. Cheryl Richards and hears some of the mitigation actions J&W is taking to keep students and staff safe.

Is Universal Design the Future? Tod is joined by interior designer Jessica Griffis to talk with Dr. Peter Blanck about his work as a disability advocate and why he believes Universal Design can create a better future for everyone.

What can design learn from anthropology? We talk with anthropologist Daniel Maldonado to understand how the study of human behavior intersects and informs the way we design spaces. Daniel shares his unique insights as a first-generation college graduate.

Ken Flowers
Dean of Career & Workforce Education, Lake Michigan College
"Prospective students, in particular, are taken by the beauty and functionality of this building. It's going to be a great draw for more students into our STEM program. If I had to choose this all over again, I would go with Progressive AE. In a minute."

Project of the Week

Student Recreation Center

Ferris State University

Location: Big Rapids, MI

Scale: 40,000 square feet

Cost: $6,000,000

The renovation and addition to the Ferris State University Student Recreation Center created a newer, larger weight room and transformed entrance, social spaces, and fitness areas respond to student requests and will be a recruitment tool demonstrating the University’s commitment to learning, wellness, and recreation. Progressive AE brings its expertise in Universal Design and its attention to the brand and character of its clients to the design of dynamic and welcoming spaces for all. Guiding decisions to manage costs while improving a broad range of the building’s spaces and systems is a key factor in the success of this project. 

See Inside Our Projects

Client Testimonials

Dr. Joseph Stowell
President, Cornerstone University

Learning Project Awards

Learning Projects

Student Beds

Higher Education Clients

Thought Leadership

We believe in sharing our expertise, insights, and research. If we can help solve a problem then that's a win. 

Whether you're a client or not, we're here to help.

Tom Frey

Senior Project Manager

Magda Smolenska

Senior Architect

Chad Gould

Senior Design Architect

Enter to Win a Yeti! 
It's not a surprise that we want to connect with you. We think you're awesome.
We love doing Lunch n' Learns - both in-person and virtually! Let us know what topics you might be interested is hearing and we'll enter you to win a Yeti cooler and some other surprise swag.
Coming soon!
See more images of this project.