Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

State of the (Michigan) Union


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A more perfect Union

The Michigan Union, one of the University of Michigan’s most recognizable landmarks at the heart of Central Campus, will temporarily close from April 30 to winter 2020 for a major renovation.

During the renovation, units and departments housed in the Union will be temporarily relocated to other spaces on campus. Food service will not be available in the Union during the renovation.

The Office of Student Life has launched Re:Union, a website developed to keep the U-M community informed on the progress of the renovation.

The website includes a “Find it” resource, list of frequently asked questions, information about nearby food options, ongoing news and updates about the project, Michigan Union history, and student involvement stories.

The $85.2 million renovation is intended to meet the needs of students of the future, honor the architectural integrity of the Union, and address significant infrastructure deficiencies, says Susan Pile, senior director of university unions and auxiliary services.

Impressions of the Michigan Union

  • If these doors could talk…

  • Here she is

  • Come in

  • Second act

  • The barbershop

  • The pool dedication

  • The post

  • Nice touch

  • The bowling alley

  • Dancing

  • Still dancing

  • Rose Bowl, here we come!

  • University Cellar crew

  • Union Station

  • Pinball wizard

See more Michigan Union photos and history.

Details, details

Specifically, the project will:

  • Enhance program and social space on the main level by enclosing the courtyard.
  •  Expand and improve informal gathering spaces on the first floor through restoration of the original 1919 floor plan.
  • Create state-of-the-art student organization and student involvement space.

The project also will provide a deep infrastructure renewal including life safety, electrical, mechanical and plumbing system improvements, elevator upgrades, replacement of the roof, restoration and replacement of windows, interior finish upgrades on floors one through four, and restroom upgrades.

The Union’s North Entrance also will be redesigned to become a more welcoming, open and light-infused entrance with an enclosed ADA-accessible ramp.

“Dating back to its beginning in the early 1900s, the Union was founded first by students as a club, with the current building opening in 1919. It has always been a central location for student involvement, leadership, and social connection. The renovation will honor that history and serve for another 100 years as the place where Michigan memories are made,” Pile says.

This text is reprinted courtesy of The University Record.

Comments

  1. john andrews

    What will happen to all the staff – kitchen staff, wait staff, etc. and other workers in the Union? Will they be laid off for the duration of construction?

    Reply

  2. Lynn Hansen - ‘75, ‘77

    As an undergrad, with the majority of my classes in the School,of Music on North Campus, I did not spend a lot of time at the Union. It was during my graduate studies that I “discovered” it to be a warm and inviting hang out steeped in tradition. I am proud of Michigan’s foresight and commitment to preserving the Union’s legacy for future generations of students while improving its structural integrity. GO BLUE!!

    Reply

  3. Andrew Castelli - ‘85

    I hope that the traditional beauty of all flooring, interior window tracery design, wall wood paneling and it’s superb attention to detail, and it’s design, is conserved on the main level and upper floors.
    The experience of the design of the B-1 lower food court area, it’s standard, plain and somewhat modern design- specially in the vending area- not notable in even addressing the classic approach of the upper levels has been noted.
    I do hope that the new work will complement the external beauty and style of this outstanding building, conserve its dignity in its interior, and not become a waste land.

    Reply

  4. John Myefski - 1984 BS 1886 MArch

    This is an amazing investment in both the past and the future for the University. As one of the most iconic structures on central campus this building warrants such an unprecedented renovation. I am excited to see that the Regents have voted to help preserve the history of the Union and make sure that the students for the next 100 years will have the opportunity to experience its full glory.

    Reply

  5. Tom Murphy

    I have spent much time here and now as a staff member I visit here all the time because I am always around campus.
    Disappointed it is closing but VERY excited for the new and improved to re-open.
    It is such an Iconic building and has meant so much to so many. The rebirth is overdue and the anticipation of its next century of service to some of the greatest students, faculty and staff (in the world) is very exciting.

    Reply

  6. Aric Smith - 92 DDS, 97 MS

    From playing pool besides my grandfather’s swimming team photos and being married 21 years ago in the Kuenzel Room, the Michigan Union will always be a cherished place for me.
    GO BLUE!

    Reply

  7. Ralph Bielawski - 1953, 1954

    During my time at the University of Michigan, I spent a lot of time in the Michigan Union. I lived in Allen-Rumsey in the West Quad that was connected to the Union so the Union became a big part of my campus life. I played pool in the pool room, and I swam in the pool. I bought bus tickets to Fraser, Michigan at the desk in the Union for too infrequent visits home. I bought tickets to campus events. I cashed checks to have the money for incidentals. I had my hair cut at the Union barbershop. I played in a concert with the Varsity Band in the union ballroom. I observed, with envy, many happy young couples at a dance in the ballroom, and, with sorrow, of a mixed-race couple, dancing in the hall outside the ballroom. I observed members of the University Club enjoying their special privileges at the Union and thought someday I might be a part of this special group. I met friends in the restaurant on the lower level. There were many initials carved in the tables there. I observed the members of the Vienna Boys’ Choir who were staying at the Union before their concert. Some of the young boys were trying to buy cigarette lighters but were foiled by the Union staff. The wood paneling in the Union was always an impressive feature. I was very aware that the Union was also a hotel. I thought it would be fun to stay there someday. When my daughter attended the University, my wife and I visited her and we stayed in a room at the Union.

    Reply

  8. Robert Epstein - 47, 51 med

    My memories of the Union are now 70 plus years old, but I remember it as an inviting place, for a meal, a respite, a place to hang out and play some snooker. At times too inviting, and a diversion from studies!
    One of the things I never did, but wished I had: Carving my name on one of the cafeteria’s wooden table tops. Carving tools were available, courtesy of the staff! One of the things I am glad are gone: Women asked (expected) to enter only by the side door. Thank goodness we’ve moved on from that.

    Reply

  9. Shelley Meriweather Ferrand - 1975. 1977

    My fondest memory was the bowling alley. My roommate and I loved it. As a student Not having much money, we loved going on Wednesday nights for “M” pin bowling. For every M pin strike, the game was free! The incentive made us better bowlers. -:). Also just loved the old antique smell and looks.

    Reply

  10. David Marlin - 1950, 1957L

    When the Daily became digitalized some months ago, I was reminded that two close friends had to admit defeat in 1956 at the Union poolroom. At a Daily reunion event at the Union last September, I heard the pool hall would be discontinued. True?

    Reply

  11. James Alexander - '66, MBA '67

    As an alumnus with fond memories of working in the Union Billiard Room over half a century ago, I was interested to find under ReUnion/Services/Billiard Room/Hours that it is now open for only 2.5 hours on Fridays. Perhaps that could be addressed, or not, before it is closed forever at the end of the month.

    Reply

  12. Mike Weinberger - '66 MPA

    As a grad student living off campus in a house with no cooking facilities, I had most of my dinners at the Union. The food was plentiful, mostly tasty and reasonably priced. I was especially fond of the desserts and gained about five pounds during that Fall term.

    Reply

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