Although administrators have placated preservationists opposed to the demolition of the Frieze Building by promising to save the Carnegie Library located next to it, University President Mary Sue Coleman said the preservation of the library is no longer a definite.
In an interview with the Daily, Coleman said the library’s future was less certain, a noticeable break from her previous statements.
“I just don’t know how feasible that’s going to be,” she said in regards to preserving the library. “We’ve asked the architects to consider (salvaging Carnegie), and that’s what they’re doing,” she added.
The University building “has a long history” because it was one of hundreds of libraries founded from Andrew Carnegie’s fortune and charity in the early 1900s, said Diane Brown, spokeswoman for facilities and operations at the University.
But historical preservation was not a top priority in selecting the architect, Coleman added, though the selected firm, Einhorn Yaffee Prescott ,is skilled in the practice, having renovated buildings at Harvard and Princeton Universities.
On the future of the Frieze Building, administrators at yesterday’s University Board of Regents meeting said it would most certainly be demolished to the dismay of community members vehemently opposed to the plan. The Frieze Building and Carnegie Library, they believe, are historical landmarks that should be preserved to the greatest extent possible. Under the current plan, the University must eliminate Frieze and could potentially eliminate the library, ridding the area of two buildings both approaching their 100-year anniversary.
The University originally said it would preserve the Carnegie Library — an architectural “treasure,” Coleman had said — and try to preserve parts of Frieze.
Two weeks ago, at a meeting with members of the community, administrators said they were very concerned with preserving at least some of the Frieze Building.
They made similar comments when they announced the plan to the regents last semester.
“The University is committed to preserving the historic nature of the facility,” said E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs, to nearly 100 community members at that meeting.
The demolition of the Frieze Building and Carnegie Library would upset community members like Carol Smith, an Ann Arbor resident, University alum and former student of the Ann Arbor High School, which was housed in the Frieze Building before the University purchased it in 1957.
Although she does not oppose building a new residence hall, Smith said she believes the current buildings, in addition to their historical significance, complement their surroundings well and accommodate pedestrians.
“My feeling is that Huron Street, State Street would look more historic, more natural, if you were able to save the fa