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Posted on Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

$1B-plus construction tab: A peek inside 9 planned or proposed projects at University of Michigan

By Kellie Woodhouse


A view of the growing University of Michigan medical campus in Ann Arbor from the newly built C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital.

Melanie Maxwell |

The building boom at the University of Michigan shows no sign of abating, with the tab for current and upcoming construction at the Ann Arbor campus edging past $1 billion.

The school is undertaking $460 million in current construction projects — including the $163 million retrofitting of the old C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital facility and the $116 million renovation of the 800-plus-bed East Quadrangle dormitory. It has another half-billion worth on the horizon.

U-M is in the early stages of planning a $250 million investment in non-revenue sports facilities, $150 million in large dormitory renovations over a two-year period and $140 million in classroom and lab building upgrades. The university is also contemplating building a $180 million to $250 million pathology building, or a portion of that building.

Continued construction costs add to a surge of new buildings and infrastructure upgrades on the Ann Arbor campus.

U-M recently finished the new $754 million Mott children's hospital, a five-year project and the most expensive in the school's history. Additionally, the new $145 million Stephen M. Ross School of Business opened in 2009, new classroom and dormitory building North Quad opened in 2011 after $175 million in construction, and a renovated and expanded U-M Museum of Art opened in 2009 after $42 million in construction.

The Law School is also experiencing new construction. A new academic Building and Commons addition were completed in 2011 and a $39 million renovation of the Lawyers Club is currently underway.

After four years and $226 million in renovations, an upgraded Michigan Stadium opened in 2010. New hockey, football and basketball scoreboards were purchased in 2011 for a combined $20 million. Construction on Al Glick Field House, a $26.1 million indoor football practice facility, completed in 2009.

"We have infrastructure on campus that is continually [getting] old and needing to be upgraded," Jerry Schulte, U-M associate director for construction and design, said during the Washtenaw Contractors Association annual meeting in May.

Below is a rundown of nine major current or proposed projects on the horizon at U-M:

1. New School of Nursing building

Many of U-M's projects on the horizon include retrofits and renovations, as space on the Ann Arbor campus is limited and new construction is costly. The planned nursing school addition, however, is the only confirmed construction project that includes an entirely new building.

The Board of Regents agreed in March to build a new $50 million facility on a 125-space parking lot near the medical campus, easing a space crunch for the school but further complicating a pressing parking shortage. The nursing school will inhabit the new building and stay in its current building, allowing it more space to grow. The school's student body has grown 26 precent over 10 years and U-M plans to add 40 additional nursing faculty in coming years.


Students enter and exit West Quad.

2. West and South Quadrangle renovations

Although it's yet to be publicly announced, West and South quads are the next dormitories in line for major renovations.

"Housing will continue to spend money doing upgrades of their facilities," Schulte said, adding that the South Quad renovation may start during summer 2013 and cost roughly $50 million. West Quad will likely start during summer 2014 and cost in the $100 million range, Schulte said.

Starting this summer, East Quandrangle is receiving the largest dormitory renovation in U-M history. The $116 million renovation to 860-bed dorm on Central Campus will take a year and follows $285 million in completed dormitory renovations since 2008.

The dormitory upgrades are part of the Residential Life Initiative started by U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. The first RLI project completed in 2008; by the time Coleman's presidential term expires in 2014 the university will have undertaken nearly $600 million in large-scale dorm renovations and tens of millions in small-scale upgrades.

3. School of Music, Theatre and Dance addition reported earlier this year that the U-M School of Music, Theatre and Dance is pinched for space, causing students to wait in long lines to practice or disturb lessons by practicing in classrooms without soundproofing.

There are 50 practice rooms available to the nearly 1,200 students enrolled in the school, and complaints have begun to trickle down to high-level administrators.


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.

Melanie Maxwell I

"We have students that are hanging out the windows," U-M vocal professor George Shirley told "The practice facilities are inadequate to service the students. They have to wait in line to use the facilities, the rooms are small and they're not up to par with facilities that are being constructed now."

Schulte said the university is seriously considering a renovation — and possibly an addition — to the school starting in 2013. He said the project is "somewhere in the $20 million range" but explained that it remains an uncertainty.

"I don't know that we have all the funding in place," Schulte said.

4. New Pathology building

For at least five years the U-M Health System has contemplated building a new 180,000 square-foot clinical and research pathology facility between the medical campus and medical school. However, increasing costs have caused the school to pause the project in recent weeks.

"This is a massive project," said Mary Krasny, associate director for U-M hospital design and construction. Krasny said the project would cost between $180 and $250 million. "The problem is it is far more than the hospital thought it wanted to spend on a pathology building."

She continued: "Right now we have done nothing the last six weeks on this while we are waiting for the hospital to determine whether they want to go forward with a portion of it, whether they want to go forward with any of it."

5. Water polo, lacrosse facilities

Water polo, added as a varsity sport in 2005, and men's lacrosse, added this year, both lack adequate facilities, U-M Athletic Director David Brandon said earlier this month. Brandon said the university plans to invest $250 million in non-revenue sports facilities in the next decade and specifically highlighted the need for better lacrosse and water polo facilities.

"We added water polo and never added any more deck space, any more locker rooms, or any more pool capacity, and so we’re constrained," he said. "We need another pool. We need more capacity. We need more locker room space."

Thumbnail image for Crisler_NewNorthEastEntry.jpg

The new northeast entryway at Crisler Arena

The school has spent $500 million to upgrade football, hockey and basketball facilities in recent years. Crisler Center is currently undergoing a $52 million renovation and the player development center was recently built for $23.2 million. Renovations are also taking place at Yost Ice Arena at a cost of $16.2 million, and Schembechler Hall, at $9 million.

6. Institute for Social Research

Regents approved a $23 million renovation for the school's Institute for Social Research in 2010 and construction is set to begin this summer. Aside from UMHS and the College of Engineering, ISR brings the greatest amount of federal research dollars to U-M each year.

The four-level addition will add 44,700 square feet to the existing ISR building on William Street, including research and meeting rooms and data and biospecimen storage. Funding is coming in part from a federal grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

7. GG Brown Memorial Laboratory

This engineering lab building was built in 1958 and, according to Schulte, "doesn't look any different than it did in the early 1980s."

U-M originally thought the state would contribute $30 million to the $56 million project through the appropriations process, but Schulte said that since former Gov. Jennifer Granholm left office and Rick Snyder assumed reins of the state budget, the project has not moved forward as planned.

"Prior to our new governor we were told these were a go," Schulte said about GG Brown and two construction projects planned for U-M's Flint and Dearborn campuses. "I think they got handed to the governor with no funding source."

Schulte said Snyder is still deciding whether GG Brown will get state dollars and, if so, how much.

8. Old Mott Hospital backfill


The old children's and women's hospital will turn into a University of Michigan neuroscience building.

Melanie Maxwell |

Regents in March approved a $163 million retrofitting of the old C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital facility, which was vacated when the hospitals moved into the new $754 million facility in December.

"It's a pretty big space that's being backfilled," Krasny said. U-M plans on using the space almost entirely for neurosurgery, adding 95 general beds, 25 urgent care beds and eight operating rooms. During a presentation, Krasny referred to it as the health system's future "neurosurgery hospital."

U-M Health System officials have said the retrofit will create hundreds of new hospital jobs, with the project following a $17.7 emergency room upgrade completed in late 2011.

"There is continuing demand for our hospital facilities: Mostly for extremely complicated acute care patients," U-M Health System CEO Ora Pescovitz said a recent Board of Regents meeting.

Thomas Peterson, UMHS associate director of operations, told recently that U-M is in the very early stages of planning a new facility for University Hospital. Design and construction on that project won't begin for at least another decade, he said.

9. Wall Street parking garage

Due in part to the slow pace of negotiations, U-M abandoned plans to fund Fuller Road Station jointly with the city and revisited plans to build a 700-space parking structure on Wall Street.

Since it was first proposed in 2008, dropped in 2009 and reintroduced this year, the garage has been a controversial proposed addition to the Wall Street neighborhood, but university officials say it's necessary to alleviate a mounting parking shortage at the health system.

The project will cost $34 million and construction bids "could be early as this fall," Schulte said.

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



Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Remember that a lot of the time they spend money, donors give them money to spend on a project. They are not spending other people's money. For example: I work with the contractor on the Lawyers' Club Renovations and Warren Buffet donated a considerable amount of money to that project. U of M just covered the balance.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 10:37 a.m.

This is exactly why I HATE hearing UM cry about reductions in state funding and how they dont pay any local property taxes. I know a great way to save $1,000,000,000 UM...

Shantell Kirkendoll

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

The University of Michigan Health System is in a planning phase, considering expansion of its clinical pathology services, including feasibility for a new facility. Program and other project details are under active internal review. Shantell M. Kirkendoll Senior Public Relations Representative University of Michigan Health System


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

Where are all these new employees and patients going to park?


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Holy ****!!! I anticipate a rise in fees for services at the U of M Hospital...not to mention the University. I'm at a loss for words.

Ann E.

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

I am among many who hope the funding will soon be in place for an addition to the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. U of M has every reason to fund necessary upgrades to this gem of a school with its high visibility and impact on the campus, our town and the national arts community. The school's faculty are esteemed worldwide, a fact the community seems to appreciate by the looks of the packed auditoriums for concerts. To see the needs of students in the arts neglected, and the competitiveness of the school challenged in the midst of all this spending is a disappointment for this taxpayer.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

There is also a new Ruthven building in the works.

Dog Guy

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

I attribute this construction frenzy to the pervasive influence of U of M's Professor Hieftje.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

i was of the understanding that the term 'dormitory' was being encouraged to be replaced by the term 'student residence'. please clarify. also why are the architects of record never listed for these projects? better yet why not list all the major contributors?


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

This list does not include the new orthopaedic hospital for special surgery which UM plans to build, renovations to the Michigan League and Michigan Union, CCRB, IM building, and NCRB. Donors, start your engines! People should not complain but rather be greatful when the oligarchy decides to spend / donate construction money.

Chase Ingersoll

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Yesterday, Bill Bradley (Sen. NJ) on Meet the Press noted that if the large employers around the country who have almost 2 trillion dollars in cash reserves that they are not spending, would simply spend 20% of that money, it would lower the unemployment rate to 5%. From that perspective, U of M is doing their part. Also noted in the that the DRIC bridge will employ all remaining 10,000 unemployed construction workers in Michigan for several years. At least with infrastructure, if it turns out to be a boon-doggle, it will be a visible boon-doggle for decades to come, and there is always a chance that it will exceed its value.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

Not if you are a student who graduated with hugh tuition debt. Not if we have to pay for it via higher gas taxes for roads that were repaved after just 5 years because they were "shouvel ready" instead of the roads that actually needed to be repaved. Not if out national debt keeps growing. The list is endless...


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

When will UM do something about North Hall? The ROTC building is nestled between the Dental Building, the new life sciences building (which almost wrecked North Hall when it was built). Seems like the U could support the ROTC programs with a new facility.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 2:03 p.m. It looks like they've already started a project to improve North Hall.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

They (the Professors and Administrators) will not get invited to the cocktail parties if they support ROTC


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

They should but............too liberal there to do that......


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

The city of Ann Arbor could take a lesson from how the university runs a successful business.......


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.



Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

The UM has spent an average of more than $500 million per year for the last decade on contruction and renovation. It is just like the old Roman emporors did in order to leave their legacy well after they died. President Coleman wants to leave a legacy in bricks and mortar even if it means that only the rich can afford to attend UM. It is time for the Board of Regents to do their job and protect the interests of the Michigan citizens who voted them into office. Control the costs and give more opportunities to Michigan students. Read more at


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

When they recruited the Chariman of the Pathlogy Department, they promised him a new building. This goes to show you what is really driving tuition and medical care costs. UM wanted him because of his record of attracting federal research grants. Thus they promised him a new building. These kinds of deals are done all the time in order to compete for the fewer and fewer federally funded research faculty. These are the hidden costs of research, which is the tail that wags the dog at UM and other research universities.Is it worth it?


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

>> When they recruited the Chariman of the Pathlogy Department, they promised him a new building. This goes to show you what is really driving tuition and medical care costs. UM wanted him because of his record of attracting federal research grants. Thus they promised him a new building. << Don't you suppose that part of the University's calculation was that the increasingly rare federal grants he was expected to attract would, in effect, help pay for a substantial part of the building, directly and indirectly? This surely weakens the grounds for your complaint.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Gee, I guess you would have to ask the construction workers, the thousands of UM employees (who live in Ann Arbor and pay taxes), the local business that are kept alive by student dollars, the money spent here by visitors for games or theater, or music presentations, the publicity given Ann Arbor because of the University, did I mention the thousands of jobs created by the University every time it builds, adds, expands? Subtract the University and Ann Arbor is just another pokey little mid-west town.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

C'mon you guys! Where's all the comments about how UM is the devil incarnate, sucking the life out of A2? How everyone there is overpaid and under-worked? Oh... or maybe it's a world-class place that plays a major role in keeping A2 alive and thriving. Naah.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

some folks think U of M can do no right some folks think U of M can do no wrong. Many of us realize they are capable of both.

Jim Osborn

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 10:51 a.m.

Wow, East Quad's renovations will cost $116,000,000? That equals $135,000 per "bed" or almost $270,000 per room. R U Joking? No, they are serious. That, along with all of the other spending is a good reason why college costs are sky-high. Parents can buy a very nice house for much less and have many more rooms. In the 1980s, a UCLA dorm room was $400 a year after removing the meal cost, which could be purchased separately. The total with meals was still less than $2,000 a year. East Quad will now cost $5,000 or more a year in just this construction cost, before you add the meals, maid, janitor, other maintenance fees, and utilities. Wow. Then there is tuition. I noticed that a nice building that I went to for an eye examination a decade ago has been torn down and the new Kellogg Eye Center stands just to the north of it, adding to medical costs. Make room for a parking structure? Playing in a city rec league that used city parks and sometimes Mitchell Field, I do marvel at how perfect Mitchell field is. Always, and how poorly maintained the parks are. But when I attend a UM football game, I know where some of the money is going. But do the lights need to come on all of the fields even when only one of them is being used?


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:56 a.m.

Times change Jim, it's no longer 1980. It may be hard to get funding but it's not impossible. Maybe that just helps weed out the kids who've only come to party.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

@ Naturalize - When I wa a UCLA student, I knew a guy who paid all of his dorm costs and tuition by working in the dorm cafeteria full time during summer and during the academic school year for 18 hours a week. You could not do that today. You say that you have to "work to find financial aid". Students once were able to be self supporting housing-wise, and the state supported the school, and the administration held costs down, since families paid for the costs without financial aid, and were very sensitive to the prices. Ditto for text books, which were $20 in the early 80s, $50 in today's money after inflation. I took an accounting class thsi past semester and my book cost $250. Terrible.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:27 a.m.

@Jim - I'm a U of M student, and I've never lived in a house worth $250,000. My parents are not rich, and I worked my tail off to get financial aid to help cover some costs. Higher education is and always has been a luxury (think Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great). Serious systemic changes like completely free education would need to take place in order to solve the problem of increasing tuition. The fact of the matter is, U of M is selling something, and they certainly don't have a dearth of buyers.

Jim Osborn

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

"a lot has changed since the 80's" Yes, college inflation that is double or triple the rest of the CPI. Craig, thanks for the UCLA link. I looked at their $13, 000 a dorm cost and could see that it is many time the inflation rate. If it had been held at the inflation rate, it would be about $5,000. My point has been that dorms were once affordable, and now each room costs more than the homes that the kids once came from, except that those who now attend UM no longer come from $250,000 homes, on average. Their families are a lot richer.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Believe it or not, a lot has changed since the 80's. If you go to the UCLA website you will see that dorm rates START at over 12k per year for double occupancy. If they renovate the M dorms every 20 years, that would be a cost of less than 8k per year. I'm sure they will see a return on their investment.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Jim, my "point" is the cost of a dorm at UCLA in the 1980's is hardly relevant. Unless your just anecdotaly indicating inflation exists. Here is a link to the cost today..... according to the Bureau of labor statistics inflation calculator your $2000 dorm with meals in 1985 would be $4280 in today dollars . Yet it looks like the meal plan dorm for a year is closer to 12,000-13,000.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

And how old is East Quad? When was the last update to heat, AC, safety, electrical systems, and furnishings? How many thousands of students have moved in and out for decades?

Jim Osborn

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

@Craig - The present California budget problems have nothing to do with the cost of a UCLA dorm in the 1980s. Nothing at all. Univ. of California dorms have always been self-supporting, always supported by the fees that it collected from the students. They were financed by 40-year mortgages. By keeping construction costs low in the late 1950s, UCLA could charge this low rate. UC San Diego likewise had a room and board rate of under $2,000 in the early 80s, for dorms built in the 1960s and 1970s. in today's money, it is about $6,000 UM will be charging more than this for just the room, and no food, utilities, or janitors. The Michigan difference. The cost of college difference today, unfortunately.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

"In the 1980s, a UCLA dorm room was...." I'm not sure how that is relevant unless it explains the utter financial disaster the California State budget is.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 10:41 a.m.

$18. Sounds cheap.

Atlas Shrugged

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 10:31 a.m.

A "peak" inside the projects? Let's hope the "higher ed reporter" didn't write the headline for this article. pEEK! What a faux pas.