University of Michigan's East Quad dormitory opens after $116 million renovation
A newly renovated, state-of-the-art and richly appointed East Quadrangle is open for business after a yearlong $116 million renovation.
It's a head turner, and that's exactly what the University of Michigan was going for.
East Quad, which is home to 856 students, a 430-seat dining hall and the school's residential college, is the latest dormitory to receive a sweeping renovation as a part of the school's Residential Life Initiative.
The nearly decade-long initiative is in part meant to help U-M keep up with the comfortable dorm offerings of other elite colleges. Nice dorms, U-M officials say, help attract competitive students.
The initiative has facilitated the construction or renovation of nine dormitories and dining halls thus far. Another renovation — of South Quad — is underway and will be followed by a $114.5 million renovation of West Quad. U-M regents have also approved plans for a $185 million graduate dormitory.
The idea behind the initiative is to enrich students' residential experience and facilitate learning and collaboration in their living quarters. Many of the renovations offer atriums, libraries, cozy community spaces, computer labs, spacious showers and game rooms where students can hook up gaming systems and play foosball or pool — all of which add allure to on-campus life for prospective students.
At East Quad, renovations are contemporary and the design is sleek. There's a large focus on community spaces and study lounges. Upgrades incorporate the building's architectural and historical elements.
East Quad was first constructed in 1940, and although crews built two small additions as a part of the project, U-M focused on renovating existing space. A 15-foot buildout on the west side of the building's courtyard was used to create an atrium, with the former brick exterior now acting as an interior wall.
In addition to the $116 million construction cost, U-M spent $3.3 million to furnish East Quad's student rooms, cafeteria, common rooms and 15 classrooms and studios — including the building's dark room and pottery studio.
"This basically is what meets a lot of new students' expectations," said Peter Logan, director of communications for U-M Housing.
U-M built a new cafe area inside the building and overhauled the dining hall.
With the building reopening to students next week, its dining hall will go completely trayless in an effort to discourage food waste.
East Quad's dining hall will be station style, meaning instead of moving down one long cafeteria line diners can choose from different stations, such as deli, vegan, pizza, etc. The seating area is restaurant style, with booth and table choices. The kitchen is equipped with modern appliances, such as stoves that can steam food and have computerized controls.
Explained Buzz Cummings, East Quad's head chef of seven years: "There's a lot of shine. It looks like a jewelry store at Briarwood."
East Quad has about 10 large lounge spaces, many of which are for group studying. It has a computer lab with 27 terminals and old-fashioned library carrels with faux-stained glass dividers and dry-erase board walls.
Other study spaces include large wall-mounted monitors that allow multiple students to plug in their computers at one time.
The building's nuts and bolts were improved as well. The work in East Quad added a fire suppression system, replaced infrastructure — electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems and roofing — and added air conditioning and wireless network access throughout. The building was brought up to accessibility standards as well.