By the 2006 fall term, the University hopes to have completed
construction of the Joan and Sanford Weill Hall, a new building to
house the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. The structure
will include classrooms, faculty offices, research centers and
career services.

Ryan Nowak
Design for the new Joan and Sanford Weill Hall.

The 80,000-square-foot, five-story building will be located on
the northeast corner of South State and Hill streets and will
provide a new entrance to Central Campus, said Rebecca Blank, dean
of the school.

Currently, the school’s facilities are divided between
three locations: Lorch Hall, a former apartment building called the
Oakland Annex and the Huron Annex.

“Classroom space is our biggest crunch,” said Claire
Hughes, development and alumni relations officer for the Ford
School. “Imagine getting a sense of community among students
(in that situation).”

Hughes said the new building will create meeting places for
students as well as more room for computers. “Students have
to meet in the hallways,” Hughes said, referring to the
current facilities. “Computers for checking mail are out in
the hallways too,” she said.

However, Pooja Patel, a Rackham student in public policy, said
she has never had a problem with classes in more than one building.
“I’ve never really heard anyone complain terribly about
having to walk,” said Patel, a graduate student instructor
for the school during the fall term.

But Blank said the new building would give the school more space
for receptions.

“I’m particularly delighted to have a place where we
can hold lectures and bring people in from the University and the
community,” she said.

Blank added that plans for the building have been in the works
for the last two years and fundraising began once the University
Board of Regents approved a design in June.

To raise enough money for the $32 million project, the
University has provided $17 million and donations are expected to
cover the rest of the costs. The school received $5 million in a
donation on February 18 from Sanford and Joan Weill, friends of
former President Ford. Ford, a University alum, later requested
that the University name the building in honor of the donors.

Blank said she hopes fundraising is complete by early this
summer, after which construction of the building will start.
“(The Weill donation) did not complete the fundraising but
we’re close to completing it at this point,” she said
“(By late summer) we want to have a hole in the
ground.”

Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the company that worked on the
Harvard University Business School as well as buildings for
Columbia and Stanford universities, sketched designs for the new
school.

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