July 21, 2016
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.