A Vision Realized

Construction Project Completes the Concept of a Unified Michigan Ross Campus
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BLAU HALL/KRESGE HALL MAJOR DONORS:

Stephen M. Ross, BBA ’62

Jeff T. Blau, BBA ’90

Sanford R. Robertson, BBA ’53/MBA ’54

Elizabeth D. Black, MBA ’87

Michael, MBA ’68, and Sophia Brenner

Michael R., BBA ’66/MBA ’67, and Mary Kay Hallman

J. Ira, BBA ’59, and Nicki Harris

Robert Hutchens, BBA ’84, and Randi Brosterman Hutchens

Mike, BBA ’72, and Sue Jandernoa

Stephen Malkin, BBA ’83

William C., MBA ’65, and Sally A., AM ’67, Martin

Tim, MBA ’80, and Beth O’Day

Jane, BBA ’86/MAcc ’86, and Daniel Och

Keshava C. and Bharathi C. Reddy

Timothy J., AB ’82/MBA ’84, and Elise M., BFA ’82, Sloan

Harvey J. Spevak, BBA ’87/MAcc ’87

Lawrence and Wendy Tenebaum

Ronald N., BBA ’66, and Eileen, MMus. ’75, Weiser

Noah Yosha, BBA ’99

Hengde Zhang, BBA ’10

BY BOB NEEDHAM
PHOTOS BY MARK BIALEK

The most noteworthy aspects of the recent construction project at Michigan Ross don’t have anything to do with number of floors, square footage, or materials. They have to do with functionality and flexibility. And they have to do with creating spaces that encourage collaboration, innovation, and learning outside the classroom.

Taken together, they transform the business school complex into a true 21st century learning environment to meet the needs of students, faculty, and staff today and into the future.

“The new space better aligns our facilities with the important mission of the school," says Ross Chief Financial Officer Sean O’Neil. “We are able to build great spaces that foster bold innovation and collaboration. Thanks to the commitment of our alumni, we are able to do this without putting additional pressure on tuition.”

In broad outlines, the project includes: one new, five-story building, Jeff T. Blau Hall, replacing the old Computer & Executive Education/Electronic Education/“E” Building; a complete renovation of the former Kresge Library building into the new, multi-purpose Kresge Hall; and renovations to the Executive Residence, Sam Wyly Hall, and the exterior of the Hill Street parking garage to create a unified campus look.

Among the features of the project:

  • A completely re-thought Kresge Library Services, transitioning from a collection of physical reference materials to a full suite of information resources and research services, guided by expert staff.
  • Best-in-class Career Services facilities for recruiters and students.
  • Nine classrooms, including one mid-sized, 175-seat room that falls between a basic classroom and an auditorium.
  • A flexible classroom space designed to facilitate team-based action learning, where class time is used to work on projects addressing real business challenges.
  • Specifically designated quiet study spaces.
  • Two workshop/ “maker” spaces to encourage brainstorming and collaboration.
  • Two large atriums that admit natural light and improve building aesthetics.
  • Professional, welcoming facilities for graduate and undergraduate admissions offices.
  • A “Center for Centers,” where most of the school’s centers and institutes — focused on specific subjects like leadership, sustainability, social impact, and so on — can share and work together.
  • A professionally equipped video production studio.
  • High-definition, digital audio/video infrastructure to facilitate live streaming and other innovative technology.
  • Open office environments for staff designed to encourage collaboration and flexibility.

“We’ve been able to create more spaces for people to find a quiet place to study, and other spaces to work collaboratively in teams,” says Ross Director of Operations Charles Amyx.

The project was fast-tracked — a three-year project substantially completed in 27 months, including demolition and construction. Some final work on Wyly Hall is continuing into the fall. Speed was important, both to minimize disruption to the school and take advantage of lower costs offered by construction contractors, Amyx says.

He has high praise for everyone who worked on the project, which went smoothly. “It was a high-functioning team. There was a lot of cooperation and communication,” Amyx says, adding that the project could serve as a model for fast tracking other University of Michigan construction.

Donors funded the entire building project. A major gift from Stephen M. Ross, BBA ’62, was critical, as were important donations from Jeff Blau, BBA ’90, and Sanford R. Robertson, BBA ’53/MBA ’54, along with many others (see sidebar).

From the beginning, the project emphasized functional, forward-thinking design.

“Our programs, centers, and institutes were housed in buildings that were designed for another purpose. With Kresge Library, for example, we began to ask the question, what does a library look like in the 21st century? It’s not stacks of books. It’s something very different,” Amyx says.

 

 

“What we have now is buildings that are far more functional and modular. The one constant is change. Some programs expand, some contract, and we have to be able to react to that in an efficient way. So, the open office environment and using furniture systems instead of hard walls allows us to be able to react to those changes quickly.”

Compared to the opening of the main Ross building in 2009, primarily housing instructional space and faculty offices, the new project is more focused on programmatic and student support functions. “The space configuration really does matter,” O’Neil says. “Having space for staff to meet with their core groups, and having innovation happen in space that’s well-thought-out and well-designed, is important.”

That space is now completing the vision of an integrated business campus, ready to meet the needs of the Michigan Ross community both today and tomorrow.

PROJECT DETAILS

$135 million
TOTAL COST, FUNDED BY DONATIONS

179,000 FT2
FULL RENOVATION

75,000 FT2
KRESGE RENOVATION

179,000 FT2
FULL RENOVATION

18 Months
CONSTRUCTION TIMELINE FROM START TO SUBSTANTIAL COMPLETION