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Updated 2:30 PM July 7, 2005




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Regents approve schematic design
for Observatory Lodge renovation

The University is moving forward with renovation and historic preservation of a 75-year-old building on Central Campus that will become the new home to the Division of Kinesiology.
A project to renovate the 75-year-old Observatory Lodge will create 18,000 square feet of new classroom, office and research space upon completion. (Photo by Todd McKinney)

The Board of Regents June 16 approved the schematic design for a complete renovation of the 30,600-square-foot Observatory Lodge, located on the corner of Observatory Street and Washington Heights. Kinesiology expects to gain about 18,000 net square feet of classroom, office and research space when construction is completed in fall 2007.

The division currently has facilities throughout four floors of the Central Campus Recreation Building (CCRB), a facility that also is home to recreational sports and exercise facilities. Kinesiology has seen its federal research funding expand tenfold during the last six years, while non-federal research activity has grown about 15 percent each year.

"Observatory Lodge will, first and foremost, help remedy the overcrowding we have experienced for the past six years as our enrollment and research productivity have grown dramatically," says Beverly Ulrich, dean of Kinesiology. "Further, this will allow Kinesiology to have, as do all other academic units at Michigan, its own dedicated academic space."

The space will allow Kinesiology to consolidate its activity within Observatory Lodge and two laboratory areas that will remain at CCRB. In addition to classrooms, offices and research areas, the lodge will enable Kinesiology to add small group meeting and study space for students, and expand space and services focused on career planning and placement.

"The location of Observatory Lodge is excellent for our needs—it is close to the Medical School and Public Health schools, facilitating research collaborations, and putting us closer to faculty and student interests, while still close to the CCRB, where our wet labs and other extensive laboratory space will remain," Ulrich says. "It provides us with visibility—a front door to our scholarly enterprise—which is significant for recruitment purposes at many levels."

Regents in April approved the $11.5 million Observatory Lodge renovation as the first of three University projects that will receive support from the state's 2005 capital outlay appropriation. The State Building Authority will fund about two-thirds of the project while the University will pay for the remainder with Kinesiology resources and investment proceeds.

The lodge was built in 1930 as an apartment building to serve faculty and staff working at the University Hospital. The Tudor Revival-style building has not had a systematic upgrade since its initial construction.

The University purchased it in 1966, using it for family housing from 1987-2001, when it was vacated. The building will undergo a total interior renovation of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and life safety systems, as well as architectural changes to support the new program. The lobby and exterior of the building will be preserved in their entirety, with appropriate repair and restoration.

Regents have approved Einhorn Yaffee Prescott as architects for the project.

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