Historic Ross School tree scheduled to be moved this month


A historic bur oak located on the Ann Arbor campus will lay down new roots along Tappan Street following a transplant later this month.

The transplant is scheduled for Oct. 25, weather permitting.

The approximately 250-year-old, 65-foot-tall tree stands next to the Kresge Business Library Building and the former Computer and Executive Education Building, which was recently demolished to make way for an expansion at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

A new, larger building that will connect to existing buildings will be constructed on that site on the north side of the Ross School complex as part of a $135 million, donor-funded expansion at the school.

Watch an animated illustration of how the historic bur oak will be moved from its location near the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

A crew from Environmental Design, a Texas-based company that specializes in transplanting large trees, will return to campus this week to prepare the tree for its short move to a new location along Tappan Street.

“There will be a lot of activity on site the first few days,” said Paul Cox, vice president of Environmental Design.

First, the transplant crew will begin unearthing the root ball and digging under the pipes located beneath the tree. The pipes, which were inserted earlier this summer, help create a platform for the tree and 4 feet of earth that will be moved with it.

“Once the root ball is exposed, it will look like a tree in the middle of a birthday cake,” Cox said.

Workers prepare the bur oak for relocation. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

The transplant crew will then begin additional site work, including trimming of adjacent trees, the temporary removal of smaller trees in the path of the move and digging the hole at the new location. They will also create a ramp up to the nearby walkway.

On the day of the move, the crew will insert giant rubber air bladders beneath the pipes and inflate them to lift the 700,000-pound package of tree and earth. Two transporters designed to move extremely heavy objects will then move the tree down Monroe Mall to the front of the Ross building.

“The transporter has approximately 100 wheels, which all operate independently. This gives us the flexibility to turn the tree as many different directions as needed to safely relocate the tree,” Cox said. “We expect the process of relocating the tree to take all day Saturday, again, weather permitting.”

When the tree is at the new location, the giant air bladders will be inserted back under the tree and lifted off the transporter and rolled into place. The air bladders will be slowly deflated and removed.

There the tree will face Tappan Street.

Temporary fencing will be installed before the tree relocation. University officials noted that the community is welcome to observe the move but will need to remain behind the fenced area. Interested members of the community will be directed to the corner of Tappan and Monroe, outside the fenced area.



  1. Kevin Atkins
    on October 13, 2014 at 8:23 am

    How wonderful!! And how much did all this cost?

    • Clenla Sano
      on October 14, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      It costs exactly the same as a year of your paychecks. Once you’re dismissed, the funds will be diverted to pay for this project. Watch your mailbox for the termination letter.

  2. Gary Walters
    on October 13, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Perhaps the money could have been better spent on an endowed chair in “Common Sense Economics”. Certainly disappointing decision making … made by “The Leaders and Best”?

  3. Kathy Boris
    on October 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Please, could someone from the the School of Natural Resources & Environment comment on the wisdom of moving this tree?

    on November 11, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    I was encouraged to discover that, in this throw-away society “mind-set”, some folks still value history and heritage. I truly hope the tree survives, not only as a living thing but as a symbol that what is old has intrinsic value to us all!

  5. Mary Salmon
    on April 18, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    What negative comments! The funds were from private donations. Saving this tree is testimony to respecting all living things…especially old living things. Kiddos for your decision.

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