University of Michigan's Lawyers Club opens to students after $39M renovation
At one point during the past year, the University of Michigan Lawyers Club was nothing but a shell.
That's because construction crews had to completely gut the 1920s-era historic building in order to construct a modern interior during the residence hall's yearlong $39 million renovation. Demolition took five and a half months.
"The walls, the ceilings and the stairwells were removed," said Diane Nafranowiczm, director of the Lawyers Club. "Everything was taken out."
In fact, bathrooms for the hall's 227 residents were built off site and hoisted up the building before stairs were installed.
There were once 15 stairwells. Now there are six.
Prior to the renovation, the residence hall was townhouse style and separate apartments weren't connected. Now, each apartment is connected through an interior hallway. Instead of common rooms in townhouse style buildings, there are now 11 richly furnished club areas.
The Lawyers Club is a graduate student residence exclusively available to law students. It was built as a part of the Law Quadrangle in 1924 for $2 million. With an ornate gothic exterior, coupled with a grandiose reading room and meticulously kept lawn, the law school campus is regularly ranked among the most beautiful campus areas in the nation.
Because of its age, the Lawyers Club needed upgrades and accessibility improvements.
U-M wanted to accomplish those improvements without damaging the integrity of the building's exterior. Several exterior doors were rebuilt into windows; otherwise much of the building's exterior looks the same. The university decided to keep the original windows.
Law students move into the residence hall Monday, August 26.
Room and board prices for residents of the Lawyers Club increased 10 percent this year. A one-bedroom apartment with a 12-meal-per-week plan at the Lawyer's Club costs between $11,660 and $13,260 for an eight-and-a- half-month lease.
All but 34 rooms have their own bathrooms. There are 17 jack-and-jill style bathrooms shared by two students each. Capacity was reduced from about 260 residents to 227. Each room is meant for a single resident. Beds are full size —larger than those normally found in dorm rooms. The building now has air conditioning.
The Lawyers Club's main common area and dining hall were left mostly untouched during the renovation, although they did receive some practical upgrades, such as a new fire suppression system.
Charles Munger, who was an undergraduate mathematics student at Michigan in the 1940s but did not graduate, donated $20 million toward the project. Munger is the vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
In 2007, Munger donated $3 million for lighting improvements in the public areas of the Law Quadrangle. Munger recently pledged $110 million toward a new 600-bed graduate student dorm and related fellowship program.
Munger has not yet visited the completed dorm.
Detroit architecture firm SmithGroup and Washington, D.C., firm Hartman-Cox Architects designed the renovation.