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Posted on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Latest University of Michigan residence life project highlights West Quad for $115M facelift

By Kellie Woodhouse

View The Quads in a larger map

University of Michigan's 1,100-bed West Quadrangle and Cambridge House dormitory will join a long list of residence halls receiving state-of-the-art renovations at the Ann Arbor school.

The central campus dormitory, built in 1937, is slated for a $114.5 million renovation.


University of Michigan's West Quad is slated for a $114.5 million renovation. file photo

This newest project brings the anticipated dorm renovation tab to roughly $626 million. The first renovated hall opened in 2008 and West Quad likely would open in 2015.

School administrators will seek permission to go forward with the design stage of West Quad's "deep renovation" during a 3 p.m. Thursday Board of Regents meeting at the Michigan Union.

The school wants to renovate the 370,000-square-foot hall, eliminate its dining center and repurpose the space to include areas for student interaction and learning. After the renovation, residents of West Quad will dine at South Quad, which will undergo its own $60 million renovation beginning in the summer.

The project will incorporate infrastructure improvements, a roof replacement, renovated bathrooms, window repairs and accessibility improvements.

Parking, according to an internal memo, won't be affected by the project, which U-M estimates will provide 138 construction jobs. Integrated Design Solutions LLC will design the project.

Officials have said construction likely will begin during summer 2014.

The project is one of many in recent history intended to improve student housing at U-M. Others include:

Meanwhile, U-M spent $8.5 million for dorm maintenance in 2010-11.

Aside from the Lawyer’s Club renovation, which is being paid for in part by a large donation and in part by the law school, the residence hall renovations are funded by University Housing, which derives its funding from student room and board fees.


University of Michigan's South Quad will undergo a $40 million renovation beginning in the summer.

Courtney Sacco I

Most are part of housing's residential life initiative, which was introduced by U-M President Mary Sue Coleman a decade ago. Coleman's employment contract specifically states that she is tasked with continuing the initiative in order "to improve university housing across the campus."

Since the residence life initiative started, University Housing has set aside 2 percent of student room and board fees to finance the renovations.

In the past three years, student dorm fees have increased by 3 percent each year. This year's increase marks a $284 hike in the rate for a student in a standard double room, which now costs $9,752 per year. In a 2012 interview, Coleman called the initiative one of her top accomplishments since coming to U-M in 2002.

"I'm a great believer that it's the holistic experiences that students have at college and a university setting that really make them what they become in their careers," Coleman said. "We hadn't done much with our residence halls in the previous 35 years, so when we really started this it was a huge task."

Meanwhile, administrators will seek approval for the schematic design of the South Quad renovation.

Plans for that project include expanded dining facilities, refurbished lounges, updated bathrooms, infrastructure improvements and the creation of group study spots and other community hubs. South Quad was built in 1951 and in the early 1990s the hall's windows were replaced, library updated and elevators rehabilitated.

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


Seasoned Cit

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

IF the right donor comes along they will be able to build a glass bubble to enclose the space between South Quad and West Quad....and with solar panels on it it will pay for itself in 29.5 years. " More from the Leaders and Best"

Stephen Landes

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

As a former resident of West Quad (early 70's) I think the plan is terrible. We had great food at the time and a dietician who really knew how to provide healthy (really) meals. We also had our own bakery (OK, maybe that wasn't the healthiest). One beauty of living in that dorm was that it was self-contained: own dining facilities, library, music library, and attached to the Union. Sure everyone had to walk to classes outside, but when you didn't have to leave the building (snowy, cold Saturdays, etc) it was nice to be able to do everything inside. I have a feeling that the U is intent on efficiency, but they are striking where it only affects students rather than staff, faculty, researchers, etc. I don't see that what is being proposed is a life style improvement for students.

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

You do realize alot have things have changed since the 'early 70's'?


Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

Yes, the U is EXACTLY the same as it was in the early 70's. Give me a break.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

They've already implemented a similar set up at the Hill dorms, and honestly, it's not negatively impacting the students. It's a nicer facility, with way more options than normal because it's so large. The combined dining center was one of my favorite places on campus to eat.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Combining WQ and SQ dining to one is half past stupid. It sounds like the big U is going really cheap by cutting staff. The dining staff at SQ will work longer and there will need to be a plan to eat in shifts. I don't know how the combined dining will actually work. Sounds like some very long lines and perhaps food shortages if this is not done right.


Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

The South Quad renovation (which precedes West Quad's) is less about residential and much more about creating a completely new, and much larger, dining facility to accomodate much larger crowds.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

they already did this with all the dorms on the Hill and it's been working great. That's one of the best dining centers on campus.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

Wow, that's $10,000 per bed. Facility must need a LOT of work.


Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 8:39 a.m.

It's 76 years old. I'm sure there was bidding for the work.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

What about Markley?

Sean Thomas

Sun, Jun 9, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

Don't forget Bursley. I think Bursley and Markley are the only two not seeing renovations.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Ask the Med Center..


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

The idea of tekking from West Quad to South Quad for all your meals is terrible, especially in winter. Why should you be forced to dress up in winter clothes, walk a ways in the slush, and then find a place to stash your winter gear just to have your meals? At the very least it is very inconvenient. I lived in West Quad and one of its great advantages was having its own dining facilities and a direct connection to the Michigan Union. As an alumni I strongly object to this!


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

Oh, come on... You make it sound like crossing Madison (how wide is it - 100 ft. or so?) is like walking ten miles to get food, in deep snow, uphill both ways.

Perry White

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

As an alumnus, I am embarrassed by the use of "alumni" for the singular by two alleged alumni.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

A tunnel. When the U bought Pfizer Campus, they inherited a tunnel that was built/placed under Huron Parkway(8-12 yrs ago) to connect the buildings. That's 4 lanes Plus a median in between. Crossing Madison (+ steam tunnels and other utilities) should be easy.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

Give me a break. Last i checked classes are in other buildings too. If you are too lazy to walk down the block to go get food, maybe you really don't need to eat anymore. As an alumni, I strongly object to your comment.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

I'd request it for my kid! The food is farther away, they have to exercise more, less temptation to snack... Obesity is a big problem even on campus. This may not be a bad thing.

Blue Marker

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Bless you UM, my company thanks you for your business!