Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Burton Tower to be silenced temporarily, undergo renovations

The university temporarily will silence the chimes and carillon of the Burton Memorial Tower late this summer for only the second time in its 75-year history.

Click here for more information about the project and falcons.

The chimes and bells were silenced the first time in March 2006 after a pair of peregrine falcons was sighted on the U-M landmark.

Pending Board of Regents approval this week, the carillon will be silent while the university repairs stonework and replaces metal flashing on the tower and repairs the metal framework supporting the carillon. Emergency repairs were last made to the tower in 2008 to fix cracking and falling limestone.

A phased construction schedule will be proposed to work around the falcons, which have become regular campus visitors. According to environment and wildlife experts, there is no evidence of successful nesting on the tower. The peregrine falcon has been removed from the federal endangered species list but remains on the state of Michigan endangered species list.

“The presence of the peregrine falcons at Burton Tower is of great interest to our community and our goal is to minimize any disturbances to the birds,” says Michelle Smay, design manager for Architecture, Engineering and Construction.

The peregrine falcon is about the size of a crow; female birds are a little larger than the males. They require open areas to hunt, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Burton Tower houses classrooms for the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, offices for the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, the University Musical Society and the Charles Baird Carillon.

The project will cost $1.6 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in August and should be completed in the summer of 2011.