By Jennifer Calfas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 16, 2013
1.The Board of Regents will consider renovating the Ford Nuclear Reactor building
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After beginning the decommission process of the Ford Nuclear Reactor in 2004, the University's Board of Regents are set to approve a $11.4-million transformation of the building into a repurposed classroom and laboratory center.
In a communication to the regents, Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the University will demonstrate that the radioactive levels of the facility, located on Bonisteel Blvd. on North Campus, fits the standards of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission before beginning the renovation and expansion plans.
The project will add 5,200 square feet of space for laboratories, testing areas, offices and support spaces for the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department. Since the building will no longer house a nuclear reactor, the building’s name may change to the “Nuclear Engineering Laboratories” upon approval by the regents.
Ronald Gilgenbach, chair and Chihiro Kikuchi Collegiate Professor in the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department, said the renovations will allow the program to expand into much-needed research space.
Since the program’s research funding has increased over the years, Gilgenbach said the current laboratory facilities do not meet the faculty’s needs. However, with this building’s thick-shielded walls and expansive space, it will serve as the “perfect” environment for more research, he said.
The program will use the laboratories in the building to advance research to benefit the public, including research in medicine, nuclear measurements related to homeland security, developing safer nuclear reactors and nuclear non-proliferation, among other projects.
Funded by the College of Engineering, the project will produce an average of 18 on-site construction jobs, and will be designed by architectural firm SmithGroupJJR. The design process is scheduled to begin soon, and will be approved by the board at a later date.
2. The Regents are set to approve the schematic design of the Munger Graduate Residence project
Last April, the board announced the construction of a new residence hall for graduate students funded in part by a $110-million donation from University alum Charles Munger, vice president of Berkshire Hathaway.
In a communication to the regents, Slottow and E. Royster Harper, vice president of student affairs, wrote that the building will be eight-stories tall to accommodate approximately 630 students “in an apartment-style layout.” The building — located on the site of the current Thompson Street Parking Structure and former Blimpy Burger restaurant — will cost approximately $185 million, funded largely by Munger and the rest by Housing resources. With an average of 264 on-site construction jobs, the building will be complete in the summer of 2015.
At a forum hosted by Rackham Student Government on Sept. 11, some graduate students expressed their concerns about the new residence hall’s schematic design and living costs. Although the forum produced mixed reviews of the hall, Harper said the University hopes to stay true to Munger’s vision for his flagship project.
“If this were ‘just us’ and the funding were ‘just us,’ we would have some different kinds of options,” Harper said.