U-M Law School tab for recent construction soon to reach $102M
The University of Michigan Law School's construction surge continues with a $39 million renovation to one of the school's oldest and most prized buildings.
Architects told the University of Michigan Board of Regents Thursday that an extensive renovation to the Lawyers Club —a residence hall, lounge and dining hall housed in gothic-style buildings originally built in 1924 for $2 million— would not damage the historic integrity of the building.
"This was an enormous, enormous task," U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said. "It's one of the most precious buildings In the country."
The schematic design for the renovations was approved by the regents at their monthly meeting Thursday afternoon in the Fleming Administration Building.
Photo courtesy of U-M
Photo courtesy of U-M
The project is the third major construction project for the law school in recent years.
Law school administrative offices and classrooms moved into the recently built South Hall, located on Monroe Street, in October. The school this year also opened Robert. B Aikens Commons, a two-level glass roofed student gathering space built on a formerly unused courtyard.
The three projects cost a combined $102 million.
The law school is also is asking the Ann Arbor Planning Commission to close Monroe Street and replace it with a pedestrian mall.
Additionally, the university recently purchased an apartment building near the Law Quadrangle for $730,000, triple the parcel's assessed value, because of its strategic location. And in 2007 the Law Quad received a $3 million upgrade.
Dorm rooms and lounge areas at the facility —formally called the Lawyers Club Dormitory Wing and John P. Cook Dorm Building— will get major upgrades to "foster a stronger sense of community between the law students," said T. Lee Becker, a partner with Hartman-Cox Architects, the firm designing the project.
The renovated club will have 228 single-occupancy dorm rooms and 12 lounge areas. Construction will begin in the summer and take 18 months. Renovated rooms will receive double beds and air conditioning and most will have private bathrooms. Several of the rooms already have fireplaces.
The renovation includes the restoration of the buildings' stone masonry and upgrades to the fire suppression system and technology infrastructure.
U-M Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Slottow said it was "very, very challenging" for architects to reach a design that strikes the right balance between preserving the buildings historic features and upgrading its interior.
During the 2012-2013 school year, when the building will be closed, law students will have the option of staying at a handful of off-campus houses near the Law Quad that the school has reserved for students.
"I think that is a good plan," said regent Andrew Richner, a U-M Law School graduate who lived at the Lawyers Club.