Frieze identified as location for new residence hall
Moving forward with a plan to improve the residential experience on campus, President Mary Sue Coleman has announced that a new facility, which will combine a 500-bed housing unit and academic space, will be built at the location of the Frieze Building on Central Campus. The plan will preserve the adjacent Carnegie Library building.
In the Oct. 6 announcement, Coleman said she is encouraging campus leaders to think creatively about how best to combine living and learning to develop what she calls a mixed-use environment.
“The literature shows that when academic and residential life experiences are combined it is powerful,” Coleman said. “I’ve always thought we could do something like this—an innovative center that students could use whether or not they live in this residence hall.”
She said her hope is to create a building that can be a new gateway to campus.
“I envision this space as a magnet location on campus—creating a density of activity, including dining options—that will be available day and night for students and faculty.”
Coleman said preliminary plans call for a 7-story building that could include meeting rooms, video and audio production facilities, studios, classrooms, seminar rooms, or a small auditorium.
The academic units that will occupy the new space have yet to be determined. The Provost’s Office will guide a comprehensive planning effort to identify the permanent space that will best serve the program needs of each academic department.
Among those looking at options is LSA Dean Terrence McDonald, whose programs in Film and Video, Communication Studies, the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Asian Languages and Cultures, and Linguistics will be at least temporarily displaced during construction that is expected to begin in 2006.
The departments of Theatre and Dance that also occupy the Frieze already are scheduled to move to the new Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre on North Campus. In the end, McDonald said, LSA expects to have as much, if not more, academic space than it currently has in the Frieze Building.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to participate in building a national model for the integration of academic and residential life,” McDonald said. “We are putting our valuable resources right where they need to be, in the enrichment of intellectual life for faculty and students.”
The addition of the first new residence hall in more than 30 years is one aspect of an overall plan to upgrade existing housing, address some of the need for additional space, and advance Coleman’s initiative of tying together residential life and the academic experience. At last month’s Board of Regents meeting, representatives from the Office of Student Affairs detailed the Residential Life Initiatives (RLI), a comprehensive plan that also calls for extensive renovations to other facilities, including upgrades to dining areas and technology infrastructure and continued progress on installation of life safety systems.
Board Chair Rebecca McGowan said housing has been a concern of regents for nearly all of her 12 years on the board. In the past, however, needs that emerged were not part of a comprehensive plan for improving residential life. Over the years, she says, the list has grown longer and the needs have changed.
“It’s Housing’s turn on the agenda,” McGowan said. “We have arrived at a point where issues of housing, issues of dining, and issues of living and learning with the informal opportunities for faculty and students to meet on neutral but nonetheless critical space, require us to move in this direction. The timing is just right.”
In addition to addressing the president’s goal of creating vibrant residential learning communities, Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper said, “This unique residence hall will set the pace for new standards of on-campus life. Students’ needs are evolving. RLI allows us to respond to those needs in ways that are effective and intentional, and to design innovative facilities like this one.”
“The new hall will accommodate the needs many students identified in RLI studies, including suite-style living, privacy, extended dining hours with a variety of food options and information technology,” said Director of University Housing and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Carole Henry.
Coleman said the decision to raze Frieze was not taken lightly, but the costs for renovating the historic building were far greater than those to replace it. Coleman said in its current state, Frieze is “wholly inadequate” as an academic space. The plan, however, calls for the Carnegie Library adjacent to the Frieze, another historic building, to be preserved and renovated.
“It is important to me that we save the Carnegie building. We’re considering making it into a digital library, which will echo its original purpose as a library but make it something students from across campus can use,” Coleman said.
The proposal for the new hall will come before regents in December, Coleman said. She hopes to have a proposed design to share with the community by summer or fall of 2005.