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The Fleming Administration Building on Thompson Street will be demolished during the Winter 2022 semester. Administrative offices will be relocated to the newly renovated Alexander G. Ruthven Museums Building on Geddes Avenue.
In an email obtained by The Michigan Daily, Kelly Aber-Drake, director of budget and finance at the University of Michigan, wrote the occupants of the Fleming Administration Building will be moved out by the end of February 2022. Interior demolition of the building is set to begin in late March/early April 2022, and exterior demolition will occur in late May after students move out. Site restoration is expected by the time students move back to campus in August.
“During demolition, there is not expected to be any direct impact to neighboring buildings, although we can expect some nuisance — noise, vibration and pedestrian and traffic redirection,” Aber-Drake wrote. “The site will be filled in and made into a green space. Currently, there is not a redevelopment project planned for the near term.”
In an email to The Daily, University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen wrote the change in location was being made in response to structural failures in the Administration Building.
“The aging Fleming Building is functionally obsolete with numerous structural and infrastructure problems,” Broekhuizen wrote.
Plans to demolish the Administration Building were first publicly discussed at the December 2016 Regents meeting, where it was announced that the Ruthven Museums Building would undergo a $150 million renovation for the administration to move in.
At the meeting, Kevin Hegarty, now retired chief financial officer and executive vice president of the University, said the Fleming Administration Building was unsafe.
“The project presents an exciting opportunity to preserve and reuse a landmark campus building,” Hegarty said at the 2016 Regents meeting. “The condition of the Fleming building is one of the worst on this campus … the building continues to deteriorate and now requires an annual inspection to ensure its safety.”
The Fleming Administration Building — which was built in 1964 and named for former University President Robben Fleming — has been the subject of popular rumors for years that it was designed to be a “fortress” and “riot-proof” after increased protests in the 1960s and 1970s.
While the rumors are unproven, Joel Batterman, recent University alum and former Graduate Employees’ Organization member, recalled demonstrations GEO hosted in the Administration Building during his time as a member. Batterman said he thought a move to the new location would increase the visibility of the University administration.
“It’s funny how Fleming is kind of removed … from the center of campus, it’s not a location that gets as much foot traffic as (the Ruthven Museums Building),” Batterman said. “In some ways, the move is very good news from a demonstration perspective. It will make for the possibility of more visible protests.”
Daily News Reporter George Weykamp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.