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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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For $6 million, the Big House could get a fresh paint job

By Peter Shahin, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 12, 2012

At its monthly meeting on Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents is set to approve a host of renovation projects across campus, ranging from minor structural and maintenance needs to large-scale renovations of iconic campus buildings.

Among upgrades the board will consider is the maintenance of existing structures at Michigan Stadium, the William L. Clements Library, the basement of the College of Pharmacy, the North Campus Research Complex and a tunnel along South University Avenue that serves the Central Campus power plant.

Michigan Stadium, built in 1927, is in need of $6 million in paint and maintenance work, Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, wrote in a communication to the regents. He added that enlargements to the stadium in 1948, 1998 and 2010 have weakened and corroded existing steel girders that are now in need of repair or replacement.

However, complicating the project are environmental concerns about the removal of poisonous lead paint, according to Slottow.

“The project will include appropriate lead mitigation methods since much of the existing painted surface contains lead-based paint,” Slottow wrote.

If approved by the board, the project would be completed in summer 2014, Slottow wrote.

Regents to consider large-scale renovation of Earl V. Moore building

The largest renovation the board will discuss will be the Earl V. Moore building on North Campus, totaling an estimated cost of $23.2 million for a complete overhaul of the existing structure.

The Moore building was built in 1964 and currently houses the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Over the years, the structure has become dilapidated and outdated, inhibiting the performance of the facility and its students. At the University’s annual leadership breakfast on Oct. 29, University President Mary Sue Coleman announced that alumni Bill and Dee Brehm had donated $8 million toward the $23-million project. The University hopes to receive an additional $1 million from smaller alumni donations.

If approved by the board on Thursday, the University will contribute $14 million to complete the renovation.

“I know the faculty from Music, Theatre & Dance will agree when I say this project is overdue,” Coleman said at the leadership breakfast.

In a communication to the board, Slottow wrote that the work would add 21,000 square feet to the building in the form a new lecture hall, rehearsal hall, classrooms, practice rooms and storage space.

Improvements to the quality of existing facilities as well as “architectural, mechanical, and electrical work necessary to accomplish these improvements” are included in the estimated cost.

Slottow wrote that the University will return to the board with a firmer construction schedule once it has received an architectural design from Integrated Design Solutions, the firm selected to carry out the renovation.

In a separate communication, Slottow and Christopher Kendall, the dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, wrote that they would request that the board designate the building’s addition as the Brehm Pavilion in honor of the donors.

Board to vote on updates to North Campus Research Complex

The second-largest ticket item on the renovation schedule is a proposed $17.5-million overhaul of the East Wing of Building 20 of the North Campus Research Complex. Slottow wrote in a communication to the regents that the building, built in 1956, is in its original condition and in need of modernization before it can be used as a biomedical research lab.

“The renovation will update infrastructure, including new air-handling units; primary heating, ventilation, and cooling distribution systems; plumbing and renovated toilet room facilities; accessibility improvements; and wired and wireless high-speed network access,” Slottow wrote.

If the regents approve the project, it will have an estimated completion date of winter 2014, according to Slottow.

Students to propose renovations to Unions, Recreational Centers

Though not included on the official agenda for the meeting, the board is also expected to hear from the student advisory group Building a Better Michigan.

The group is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, and it has created a comprehensive long-term plan to renovate the University Unions, the CCRB and the IM Building.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily on Monday, Coleman said the Division of Student Affairs has worked very closely with students to determine what elements would be critical in a future renovation of both types of facilities. However, she noted that finding a viable “revenue stream” was equally, if not more, important.

“This is a multi-year process, obviously, because these are big, big projects,” Coleman said. “This is not something you’d do overnight.”

Coleman compared the undertaking to the ongoing Residence Life Initiative, the University’s plan for the modernization and updating of residence halls across campus. According to Coleman, it took years of planning to adequately prepare for those projects, and renovations for the Unions and recreational centers is an undertaking of similar magnitude.

“For me, it was very important to get the residence halls underway because (that’s) a lot of student’s lives,” Coleman said. “I’m delighted that we can now be talking about these other ideas, because I know there’s been a lot of discussion among students.”

She added that a new student fee is on the table, something the University has traditionally avoided, according to E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs.

Harper echoed Coleman, and said the need to balance the “cost of education” with the “need to renovate” was the primary concern.

“We want to make sure we get it right,” Harper said. “We want to make sure the facilities are good (and) the fields are good as we talk about health and wellness.”

Harper added that the expanse of the recreation facilities makes the project difficult.

“We’re challenged in a way that some institutions are not because we’ve got three (recreational centers and unions) instead of one,” Harper said.

Building a Better Michigan is expected to present evidence to the board that shows that 87 percent of students say renovation of the University Unions and the recreational centers is a “priority” and that 67 percent of students would support a fee of $100 to accomplish the renovations. 58 percent of students surveyed said they would support a fee between $150 and $200.


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