By Aaron Guggenheim, Managing News Editor
Published August 15, 2013
After over a year’s worth of construction that left little of the original interior, East Quadrangle Residence Hall will see students move back in for the 2013 fall semester.
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The hall closed in May 2012 for $116 million of extensive upgrades as part of the larger Residential Life Initiative that started with the renovation of the Mosher Jordan Residence Hall in 2005, with construction on a residence hall completed every successive year.
University Housing facilities — consisting of 18 residence halls and managed properties — houses students in 4.7 million square feet, representing 16 percent of the total square footage operated by the University.
The renovations, which at the completion of the project have totaled to a $626.2 million investment, are financed by University Housing funds from student room and board fees. The renovations of numerous other University buildings and properties have been partially funded by large donations such as the $110 million pledge by Charles Munger, to the construction of a new graduate residence hall on Central Campus.
Gregory Wright, assistant director of planning and design for University Housing, said the renovations to residential housing are meant to give students the amenities — including up-to-date and energy-efficient electrical and plumbing systems — that they have come to expect from the residential living experience.
“What we are doing here is what most universities are providing now but we are at a little bit of a disadvantage because our buildings are heritage buildings, they have been around for a quite a while,” Wright said.
East Quad, which will house 856 students in 329 double and 192 single rooms, was first opened in 1940 with additions built in 1948 and 1969. In 1969 it became home to the Residential College, an interdisciplinary liberal arts program, and in 1999 it housed the Michigan Community Scholars Program, a residential learning community.
Before the renovation, the building experienced an asbestos outbreak and the facilities, though well maintained, held the wear and tear of 70 years of constant use.
The dorm now has 10 to 15 flexible classroom spaces along with 10 separate study lounges to facilitate group and independent study, a Computer Learning Center — consisting of a mix of 27 Macs and PCs — and a game room outfitted with a ping-pong table, pool table and foosball table.
About $3.3 million, separate from the $116 million cost of renovation, was spent to furnish both the residential and public areas of East Quad, with most of the old furniture going toward other locations in the University Housing system.
Many of these lounges and the CLC are in what used to be the basement of East Quad, which has been renovated to include more windows in an effort to better use the space.
“We didn’t want it to look and feel like a basement because nobody wants to work in the basement, take classes in the basement and that was what was happening before,” Wright said.
The update to the basement did not include the Halfway Inn — a room often used by the East Quad Music Cooperative — among other groups, to hold events and concerts.
Housing spokesman Peter Logan said University Housing made the decision after listening to student input.
“We did listen to (students) concerns but we just felt that in the long haul, we needed to create a better dining experience and we needed that space to build out a new kitchen where a lot of the primary preparation could be done,” Logan said.