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Posted on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:04 a.m.

Cramped University of Michigan music school to receive $23M upgrade

By Kellie Woodhouse


Michigan student Matt Armbruster, of Washington D.C., looks for an empty practice room as he carries his cello down the hall at the Earl V. Moore Building on Tuesday.

Melanie Maxwell I

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance is getting a $23 million facelift.

U-M President Mary Sue Coleman announced the project during her annual leadership breakfast Tuesday morning.

The college's current infrastructure is outdated and the practice rooms are cramped, students told earlier this year. Although the school enrolls more than 1,150 students, there are just 50 practice rooms open to all.

"I know the students from music, theater and dance will agree when I say this project is overdue," Coleman said Tuesday.

The project will include new rehearsal rooms, studios and a lecture hall, as well as improved space for one-on-one time between faculty and students.

Regents are expected to approve the project at their next meeting in November. The project will begin in early 2014 and take about two years to complete.


Mary Sue Coleman announced the new Michigan Water Center on Tuesday morning.

Daniel Brenner |

The project will be partially funded by longtime Michigan donors William and Delores Brehm, who are giving $8 million toward the renovation and expansion. U-M will contribute $14 million toward the renovation and seek another $1 million in donor support.

The college's music program is housed in the Earl V. Moore Building, which was built in 1964 by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the mind behind the St. Louis Arch.

"This building is a historic building ..., but I certainly would love a bunch of money to make it work," SMTD facilities manager Mary-Alice Wiland told earlier this year. "Music has changed and our needs have changed."

The school's outdated infrastructure was making colleges with newer facilities — such as the University of Denver, which opened a state-of-the-art performing arts center in 2002 that features practice rooms equipped with technology to simulate a range of different performance spaces, and Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, which has more than 170 practice rooms — more attractive to prospective students, some faculty said.

Coleman said the gift signified U-M's ongoing commitment to the arts.

"Pursuit of the arts at Michigan is not a stand-alone enterprise. It’s not about decoration, it’s about creation — creation that is deeply rooted in our interdisciplinary setting," she said.

The announcement follows a $32.5 million gift to the Art and Design School by Penny and E. Roe Stamps.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Congrats...this is LONG overdue. I attended the SoM for grad school in the 1980's, and finding a practice room even back then was often difficult. World class faculty is primary, but you also need world class facilities to attract the strongest talent. I'm hoping this project plans for the future, not just catching up to the present.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

So glad to hear this. This space has been cramped and outdated for a long time. Much gratitude to the Brehms! It's good to see the University giving some attention to the performing arts.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

This is great news, and long overdue. Too bad the project can't be moved up (like summer 2013.)


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

Is the Ed School next?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Hehe. I think the Ed School must be preserved as an historic building.

Dog Guy

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

A round of applause for Penny and E. Roe Stamps, please!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.