University of Michigan
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April 19, 2019

Michigan Union to undergo extensive renovation

July 21, 2016

Michigan Union to undergo extensive renovation

Topic: Regents

The university's iconic Michigan Union will undergo its most extensive renovation since it opened in 1919. The renovation project was approved by the Board of Regents on Thursday.

The $85.2 million project will create social space on the main level by enclosing the courtyard, and expand and improve lounge and study spaces.

The project also will include state-of-the-art student organization and student involvement space, space for counseling and student support services, and enhanced meeting space near the ballroom.

"This renovation allows us to meet the needs of students in the future, honor the architectural integrity of the Union and address significant infrastructure deficiencies," says Susan Pile, senior director of University Unions and Auxiliary Services.

"The project will create highly interactive spaces that allow for students and student organizations to interact with each other in meaningful ways."

The iconic Michigan Union will undergo its most extensive renovation since it opened in 1919. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

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

It also will address deferred maintenance such as life safety, electrical, mechanical and plumbing improvements, elevator replacements and upgrades, replacing the roof and windows, and some interior finish upgrades.

The Union has long been a vibrant center for student involvement. It contains meeting and special event spaces, student organization office and activity spaces, dining and retail establishments, study lounges, and other services and resources related to student life. 

"It is through the Union that students' classroom learning and leadership are put into practice and where students create their Michigan experience," adds Royster Harper, vice president for student life.

Funding will be provided from the Student Life student fee for facility renewal and investment proceeds.

In April 2013, the regents approved a new $65-per-term fee that will fund improvements in the University Unions and Recreational Sports facilities. The Michigan Union project is the latest in an initiative of investments to revitalize spaces beyond the classroom, from unions and recreational fields to buildings.

The architectural firm Integrated Design Solutions, in association with Workshop Architects Inc. as the design architect, and Hartman-Cox Architects as the historic preservation specialists, will design the project. Design work is scheduled to begin immediately.

The project is expected to provide an average of 75 on-site construction jobs.

A separate project to repair the exterior masonry work on the Michigan Union is taking place this summer. Designed to preserve the exterior of the historic building, as well as showcase its architecture, this work is expected to be completed in August.

The Michigan Union is the third oldest college union in the nation.

It is the successor to an earlier Union clubhouse, a remodeled residence built originally by Judge Thomas M. Cooley, long a member of the university's law faculty.

The growth of the student body and the increasing importance of the Union made an expansion of its facilities imperative, and early in 1916, the first building was torn down to make way for a new Michigan Union. Plans for that new Union were prepared by alumni and brothers Allen Pond and Irving K. Pond.


Bill Myers
on 7/23/16 at 2:44 pm

As one of a group of M men in 1969-70 who were the last to use the Fourth Floor Union as our dorm (shared Rm 444), it will be interesting to see what it looks like after the renovation (the following year the 4th Floor was converted to office space...)

Jennifer Downey
on 7/27/16 at 10:09 am

I'd like to know more about the enclosing of the courtyard. That, too, is an important space. I don't find any images, etc. via the link that show what that will look like and how foot traffic will be affected.

susan wineberg
on 7/27/16 at 4:56 pm

Please don't replace those iconic stained glass windows. They add so much character to the building and are part of the original design. I hope that as many original features of the interior can be preserved as well...iconic is right! So don't mess with a good thing.

Albert Meyer
on 8/24/16 at 10:24 am

My name is carved in one of the tables. I hope these tables are still there, and the tradition will continue.

Albert Meyer - LS&A 1957

George Reichel
on 10/25/16 at 4:16 pm

On October 21, 2016 I was one of few present at a presentation describing the planned changes to the Michigan Union interior. The Billiards Room may not be retained in it's present form. It was reported that the Billiards Room is not used much. Discussions have been held with several students concerning the desires of current students for the space currently used for the Billiards Room. The recommended changes to the Second Floor "Floor Plan" will be communicated to the Board of Regents at a future meeting. Go Blue

David Marlin
on 12/07/16 at 3:33 pm

I would understand reducing the space of the billiard room if it's not used as much as formerly but hope it won't be eliminated entirely. I loved playing there in the 40s and 50s. What is the prognosis?

Alan Knaus
on 2/25/17 at 9:10 am

The Michigan Union should NOT be converted into the "Office of Student Life Building". The Michigan Union and Unions across the country have simple agendas: academic study areas, social functions, entertainment and food. They were never intended for the 1,400 UM clubs facilitates. Those clubs need their own building. The billiards room is an iconic feature that should never be changed.

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