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News » US » Green light for $85m revamp of Michigan University union » published 17 Mar 2017

Green light for $85m revamp of Michigan University union

The schematic design for renovation of the 97-year-old Michigan Union has been approved by the University of Michigan (U-M) Board of Regents.

The US$85.2m project will enhance expand lounge and study spaces. It will create additional areas for  student organizations and student involvement , improve space for counseling and student support services and enhance meeting spaces.

The architectural firm Integrated Design Solutions, in association with Workshop Architects as the design architect, and Hartman-Cox Architects as the historic preservation specialist, designed the scheme. The two-year project is expected to begin in spring 2018. The project will provide an average of 75 on-site construction jobs.  

"The project team has worked to create highly interactive spaces that allow for students and student organizations to interact with each other in meaningful ways," said Royster Harper, U-M vice president for student life. "For almost 100 years, the union has been the place that the university family gathers to celebrate, collaborate, remember and create what is truly special about Michigan."

The current Michigan Union consists of the original building, which opened in 1919, and additions that were added in the 1930s and 1950s.

The project also includes plans for the enclosure of the courtyard for year-round use. The design calls for a new glass and steel roof structure over the courtyard. The appearance of the roof will incorporate arches and curves found in the original 1919 Michigan Union building.

"The nature of Michigan weather dictated the patio could only be used a few months per year. We also heard from students and others on campus about the need for more programming space," said Susan Pile, senior director for university unions and auxiliary services. "The enclosed courtyard will create a new vibrant, year-round social hub as a place for students, campus-wide events and informal gathering space."

The renovations will improve accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act throughout the building.

Pile also noted that the north side of the building is the most heavily used entrance into the union. Data shows that more than 1.2 million people use this entrance each year and in many ways, consider it to be the front door to the building.

In recognition of this prominent entry, a new, curved glass entrance canopy will be constructed. The design will include architectural elements reflected throughout the original union building and the Michigan League, which was designed by the same architects as the union.

The project also plans to address infrastructure needs such as safety; electrical, mechanical and plumbing improvements; elevator replacements and upgrades; replacement of the roof; restoration of windows; and some interior finish upgrades.

Pile also said that the Michigan Union Board of Representatives and the student organization Building a Better Michigan were instrumental in assuring student involvement and successfully advocating for improvements to the union. “We provided input to the architects and designers on what students would like to see in this project," said Jason Comstock, U-M student and co-president of Building a Better Michigan. "The renovation will bring the iconic building back to life and make students excited about their union again."

Funding will be provided from the Student Life student fee for facility renewal and investment proceeds. In April 2013, the Board of Regents approved a new US$65-per-term student fee that will fund improvements in the university unions and recreational sports facilities.



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This article was published on 17 Mar 2017 (last updated on 17 Mar 2017).

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