Restoration. Renovation. Reunion!
After nearly two years, the Michigan Union reopens its doors to the public in 2020 with a grand celebration on Jan. 13. The $85.2 million renovation began in April 2018. Enjoy these photos of this vibrant U-M landmark, so rich in history, activism, and architectural wonder.
So many windows
Experts from Full Spectrum Stained Glass in Colon, Mich., have been restoring the Union’s 540 windows, which include 1,150 individual sashes, 5,218 leaded glass panels, and 21,528 individual pieces of glass. The Union’s windows are from three different periods: 1919, 1937, and 1956. Full Spectrum modified its processes to account for each era.
“The windows will return to the original look and feel of the 1919 windows,” says Amy White, director of the Michigan Union. “That’s why we are restoring them to maintain our history, not universally replacing them.”
Cut and paste
While completing sash repairs, the “ghosts” of students past made themselves known. “We found names carved into the wood,” says John McCartney, co-owner of Full Spectrum Stained Glass. “We saved those pieces and put them back into the restored piece to keep that history alive.”
One more about the windows
The windows project is one of the most fascinating aspects of the restoration. The windows were numbered by the architect in the blueprints. Full Spectrum used the same numbering method for ease of communication with others involved in the project, creating a grid that allowed them to track the progress of each window throughout the restoration. Here, an expert brushes the stained glass.
The crane, the crane
When the Union reopens it will feature an enclosed courtyard with a glass roof designed to bring the outdoors in.
Piece by piece
This piece of the enclosed courtyard’s roof (or would it be a ceiling?) will soon be set in place.
This architect’s rendering of the enclosed courtyard bathed in natural light gives us a sneak peek of what to expect when the newly restored Michigan Union opens its doors. See additional renderings.
Meeting of the minds
This artist’s rendering shows the way in which the enclosed courtyard will blend with the building’s interior. It’s a case of old meets new. View a 3D virtual tour of the interior.
“Many of the structural renovations to the building will correct previous modifications, some that occluded its natural daylight and blocked its graciousness,” says Amy White, director of the Michigan Union. Crews worked on the building’s side entrance to create a more welcoming vibe that aligns with the original design, and the new entrance will feature an enclosed ADA-accessible ramp.
It’s been a while since crews fenced off the construction site and closed the Union’s doors to the general public. But the wrapping is finally coming down! Next time you visit Ann Arbor, take a look inside. You’ll find Panera Bread, Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea, MI Burger, Mama DeLuca’s, Blue Market, Panda Express, and Subway. Retail partners include Barnes & Noble, the U-M Credit Union, the U-M Tech Shop (formerly Computer Showcase), PNC ATM, and the Michigan Union Ticket Office.