The historic Alexander G. Ruthven Museums Building will undergo its most significant renovation since originally constructed in 1928. The $150 million renovation project was approved Thursday by the Board of Regents.

Plans for the Ruthven project include the addition of approximately 100,000 square feet of new space for active-learning classrooms and auditoria and the renovation of 150,000 square feet of existing space.

The renovated space will accommodate dry laboratories and the university’s central administrative team now housed in the Fleming Administration Building.

“The Ruthven project provides us with an opportunity to create contemporary classroom space in a prime, Central Campus location while preserving and reusing a landmark building,” says Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer.  

Ruthven is located on the curve where Geddes Avenue becomes North University Avenue. The building is currently home to several units, including the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, as well as the Anthropology, Natural History, Paleontology and Zoology museums. 

With the completion of the nearby Biological Science Building, expected in the summer of 2018, most of the Ruthven occupants are planned to be relocated to the new building. The university’s central administration offices, currently housed in Fleming, would be relocated to Ruthven once the renovation is complete. Space also will be provided in Ruthven for Board of Regents meetings.  

Hegarty noted that the nearly 50-year-old Fleming Administration Building is in dire need of costly repairs, is functionally obsolete and occupies valuable space on Central Campus that is better suited for other purposes. “The benefits of retaining Fleming are far outweighed by the costs of renovation. The plan is to demolish the building,” he said.

Funding for the Ruthven project will be provided from investment proceeds. University officials will return to the regents at a future date to request authorization to appoint an architect and subsequently seek approval of a schematic design. 

Ruthven was designed by notable Detroit architect Albert Kahn in 1928. In 1968, the regents named the building after Alexander G. Ruthven, U-M’s seventh president.

Ruthven is one of a number of buildings on the U-M campus designed by Kahn, including Angell Hall, Burton Memorial Tower and Hill Auditorium.