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Pierpont Commons Cafe to be renovated by fall 2014

University of Michigan
A view of the renovated Pierpont Commons spaces, which is slated for completion by fall 2014. Buy this photo

By Jennifer Calfas, Managing News Editor
Published December 19, 2013

Attention North Campus dwellers: a new renovation is coming your way.

At the University’s Board of Regents meeting Thursday, the board approved the renovation of Pierpont Commons’ Commons Cafe on North Campus. The project is part of a series of union renovations, funded in part by a $65-per-term student fee per semester.

The project will renovate approximately 10,500 square feet of space at an estimated cost of $5.3 million. The renovation will update the cafe’s food stands, dining areas, and surrounding spaces with five different food features or restaurant concepts.

The renovation will take place from March to August 2014, with plans to reopen the space before students arrive for the fall semester. The project will be designed by SHW Group, a Berkley, Mich.-based firm.

E. Royster Harper, vice president of student life, is an outspoken advocate for the union renovation efforts. She added that besides complaints about the difficulty commuting to North Campus, one of the most common critiques is the lack of a student hub and community space.

“This will be yet another space for students to come together, hang out and do work, so we are very excited,” Harper said.

The administration has been working on this project for seven to eight years, according to Harper, who added that she is excited to see students’ reactions to the new space when they return in the fall.

“When I’m on North Campus, I see its beauty and what’s possible, but I know that we have to make it more vibrant for current students because there’s such a big difference of the amenities on Central and the amenities on North, and yet we have a lot of students that we love on North,” Harper said.

The new space will include large windows to bring in natural light and allow students to look at North Campus’ natural setting, which Harper said is important for highlighting the campus’ unique characteristics.

Building a Better Michigan, a student organization dedicated to garnering student voice on the Union renovations, surveyed students about the importance of renovating these buildings, according to a press release.

LSA senior Louise Mirante, co-chair of Building a Better Michigan, said the renovations of the unions are necessary for the success and engagement of students on campus.

“The cafe in Pierpont Commons will better serve student needs and accomplish this mission after its renovation,” Mirante said in the release.

Costing $173 million in total, the union renovations will continue throughout the next few years. The buildings that will be updated include the Union, Pierpont Commons, the North Campus Recreation Building, Central Campus Recreation Building and the Intramural Sports Building.


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