University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

September 23, 2018

Regents approve underground addition in Detroit Observatory

February 15, 2018

Regents approve underground addition in Detroit Observatory

Topic: Regents

Plans to construct an underground addition in the Detroit Observatory were approved Thursday by the Board of Regents. The facility is located on the corner of Ann and Observatory streets.

Built in 1854, the Detroit Observatory was the first observatory in the state of Michigan and is the second-oldest building on U-M's Ann Arbor campus. It established U-M as one of the country's first true research universities.

The $10 million project will construct a below-ground addition of approximately 6,000 square feet that will provide program and support space. The addition will house a multi-use classroom, a new entry and reception area, restrooms, storage, catering and support spaces.

Additional improvements include site work to allow for improved accessibility and greater connectivity.

The Detroit Observatory is the second-oldest building on the Ann Arbor campus. Its construction in 1854 established U-M as one of the country's first true research universities. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography) 

The project includes significant earthwork and specialized footings and foundations to protect the historic building and support the below-grade addition and landscape above. The scope of the project also includes the architectural, electrical and mechanical work necessary to complete the improvements.

Funding for the project will be provided from Bentley Historical Library gifts and resources.

The architectural firm of Harley Ellis Devereaux will design the project. The project is expected to provide an average of 13 on-site construction jobs.

Design is scheduled to begin immediately and the university will return with a construction schedule with approval of a schematic design.

The building is called the Detroit Observatory in honor of Detroit business leaders who raised funds for its construction in the 1850s. The original building and its telescopes cost approximately $22,000.