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Michigan Union Renovation | Spring 2018–Winter 2020 Goal: Restore and reactivate the Michigan Union while maintaining its historic fabric and reasserting its role as a vibrant social hub and locus of inclusivity, innovation, activism and involvement.
Workshop Architects, consultants for the Michigan Union Renovation project kicking off in spring 2018, recently earned the Environmental Design Research Association’s (EDRA) Certificate of Research Excellence (CORE) for its social research effort, Campus Capital Framework: Mapping Meaning to Inform the Michigan Union Renovation.
The EDRA CORE program recognizes and celebrates exceptional environmental design research as applied to design projects. Under this program, Certificates of Research Excellence are issued to rigorous and impactful practice-based design research that sparks innovation and promotes best practice in environmental design.
When the University of Michigan Regents approved schematic designs for the $85.2 million renovation to the Michigan Union, one focus was on their minds -- students. Which is entirely fitting as the iconic Union -- a centerpiece of U-M campus activity since its construction in 1919 -- was initiated and its growth has been driven by students since its inception.
From the beginning of the renovation process, the Michigan Union Board of Representatives (MUBR) and the student organization Building a Better Michigan (BBM) were instrumental in surveying student support and successfully advocating for improvements to the Union.
The courtyard is enclosed to create a sunlit gathering and event space with a visual and physical connection to the Idea Hub on the second level. The design of the courtyard roof takes cues from the arches and curves throughout the building.
The enclosed courtyard offers casual, year-round lounge space and a flexible location for scheduled events.
The Willis Ward Lounge and the Campus Information Area are returned to their original prominence in this open public space. The size of the lounge is nearly doubled and incorporates the warm ambience of the fireplace into the community areas.
A welcoming and flexible environment for developing and experienced leaders, the Idea Hub will be a resource for all student organizations, providing opportunities for collaboration, learning, and experimentation. It physically and visually connects to the social spaces on the main level.
The Idea Hub is a student-led initiative. It creates collaborative, innovative spaces for all student organizations in a welcoming and flexible environment.
Media-rich work zones in the Idea Hub include collaborative cubes and writeable surfaces.
The Idea Hub provides opportunities for collaboration, learning and experimentation. It is connected physically and visually to the social spaces on the main level.
The second-floor Idea Hub wraps around the enclosed courtyard on the first level and includes huddle spaces. The “teaming area” recalls the way the historic balcony overlooked the courtyard. The shop serves as a messy, ideation space.
The Willis Ward Lounge is restored to its original size allowing for an open flow and a significant increase in social space on the first floor. New pathways, openings and a two-sided hearth enhance informal gatherings. The administrative office is relocated off the main level to give students and other visitors more social interaction space in a prime location.
At the north entrance, a curved canopy is reminiscent of the Michigan League. It provides a bright and inviting welcome for guests and includes an ADA-accessible entry.
A selection of preliminary architectural renderings demonstrate how student voices, project goals and building needs may come to life in the Michigan Union renovation.
- Renovations to student organization, collaboration and involvement spaces
- Deep infrastructure upgrades and renewal of building systems
- Partial renovations to common spaces, lounges and offices
- Historical restoration
The first step in this renovation project was to identify the work of the Michigan Union for the next 100 years. Student thoughts, opinions and advice were actively pursued and their input helped in framing what the Union should be. Their voices are central to every aspect of the Michigan Union renovation.