Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, November 18, 2011

Regents approve East Quad renovation design, Baits II improvements

The Board of Regents on Thursday approved the schematic design for the comprehensive renovation of East Quadrangle residence hall and approved a project to upgrade facilities of Vera Baits Houses II, a residence hall on North Campus.

Both projects are part of U-M's Residential Life Initiatives (RLI), a planned capital program launched in 2004 to improve university housing and dining facilities and to strengthen the connection between living and learning on campus.

"The support of the Board of Regents has been tremendously important in revitalizing several of our aging housing facilities," said Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper. "The work to upgrade infrastructure and life-safety systems has enabled us to make the residential experience for students more welcoming and more dynamic to their social and academic needs."

The East Quad renovation design was presented to the Board of Regents by the project architect, Integrated Design Solutions LLC of Troy. The heritage residence hall, which opened in 1940 and was subsequently expanded, houses approximately 860 students. Since 1967, it has served as the location of the Residential College, a four-year interdisciplinary liberal arts program within the LSA. Last year it also became the home of the LSA living-learning community Michigan Community Scholars Program.

Similar to the significant upgrades made to other residence halls, the work in East Quad will add a fire suppression system, replace deficient infrastructure — electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems, and roofing — and add air-conditioning and wireless network access throughout. Improvements will be made to the student rooms, dining facilities, classrooms and offices.

The design will reconfigure spaces to create new study and gathering spaces for students, and create synergies between the academic and residential programs in the building. The project is estimated at $116 million. East Quad will be closed in May 2012 for the construction, reopening for the fall term in 2013.

Vera Baits Houses II opened in 1967. In 2008, University Housing replaced the central boiler in Baits II and made other infrastructure improvements including heating and ventilating units, the water-heating system, water and waste piping, and overhead lighting.

Additional renewal approved for Baits II will include new fire detection, alarm and suppression systems, new windows and roofing, wireless Internet access, as well as some community spaces to be rearranged or repurposed to support academic and co-curricular activities of residents.

The work is estimated at $11.95 million and will be done during summer months so that the residence hall will not be closed during the academic year.

"We have unique buildings across the University Housing system, and it is exciting to work with the distinctive character of our communities as we renew them for current and future residents," noted University Housing Director Linda Newman. "Student responses to the work accomplished by the Residential Life Initiatives has been thus far very positive."

Other RLI projects have included upgraded fire alarm and suppression systems throughout the residence halls, the construction of Hill Dining Center and North Quadrangle Residential and Academic Complex, and comprehensive renovations of Mosher-Jordan, Stockwell and Couzens halls. Alice Lloyd Hall, which closed last May for renovation will reopen for fall term 2012. Financing of the multiyear capital program is funded through student room and board revenue.

Recently, University Housing announced that it would not continue to use Vera Baits Houses I for student housing after this academic year.