University Architect


The weather finally gave us a break.  Time to start construction ... well ... not quite yet.  The student housing project is hung up in the permitting process.  It seems that the south end of the parcel on which we are building has a wetlands area and that requires approval of the Department of Natural Resources.  Plans have been sent to officials at the DNR and they are permitted by statute to take up to 90 days to review. 

Fortunately, the City of Southfield is working with us to let the permit rope out slowly, so we could erect a construction fence and do some tree grubbing.  We hesitated to put the fence up any sooner than absolutely necessary because of the inconvenience that it will cause for access to the Ridler Field House and the north-end buildings.  Yes, I did say inconvenience.  Remember, you can't make an omelet with breaking some eggs.  Part of Lot 'C' will be fenced off for construction and everyone will have to walk around it. If you are going to the field house to exercise, you can simply trade off the 5 minutes in the lot for 5 minutes in the gym.

As for the A. Alfred Taubman Engineering, Architecture, and Life Sciences Complex, the architects have been busy completing the bid documents.  We have put together the invitee bid list of contractors.  Project is going out for bids as this is written.  Bids are due at the end of June and then we see what happens next.  Stay tuned!



And then there were two!  Last week the A. Alfred Taubman Engineering, Architecture, and Life Sciences Complex project was moving along quite nicely and then the Board of Trustees met and cut loose the long hoped for relief for student housing!   The new, 160-bed housing project was approved and will start construction in the spring!  Fantastic!  With A. Alfred Taubman Engineering, Architecture, and Life Sciences Complex scheduled to start construction in late September, there will be a lot of activity on the campus for the next year-and-a-half.  Lots of excitement ... dirt ... noise ... and all that goes with construction. 

Everyone will expect that we’ll use rubber hammers and noiseless equipment so as not to disturb classes. Not!  And North Housing students will have to bury their heads under their pillows in the morning, if they want to sleep late.  Construction of the new residence hall will be right behind their apartments.  And here’s a bit of information to remember: contractors start at 7 a.m.  Housing South might start looking pretty good for a while.  Then again, maybe not.  Get to bed early everyone.  There won't be much sleeping late for a while.


"In my last blog, I noted that there were a few interior layout issues to resolve.  I said that I would update you on 'who and what goes where.'  That sounded so easy and doable at the time.  I mean, how difficult can it be, once you have fixed the building boundaries of length, width and height?  Just get with a couple of people and decide.  If only it were that easy.

Six weeks ... yes, I said six weeks and we aren't there yet ... close but not there.  What can be so difficult?  Well, there are two colleges, shared programs, a program in one college with lab knowledge and expertise in another, preconceived ideas, forgotten programming input and ... last but not least ... added STEM space.  Huh? 

If STEM is a concept, an umbrella to our programs, how do you assign space to its needs?  Hmmm.  It turns out we need space for a STEM coordinator and support to assure that our programs and courses involving science, technology, engineering, and math are reinforcing and supporting STEM concepts and principles.  That makes sense ... but, it means squeaking in another office.  And, we did it!

Now back to the building.  It has been nine months since we received the concept drawings.  Do you know that I still don't know what the exterior wall is made out of and what the 'scrim' is that is shown parallel to the outside wall?  Nine months!  Yes, nine months!  A woman can have a baby in nine months, and I can't get info on what the composition of a wall will be!  How tough can it be?  Not to fear.  I'll have it by my next update ... maybe."


On February 14th (yes, it was our Valentine’s Day present), we saw the first pass of the design concept for the new A. Alfred Taubman Engineering, Architecture, and Life Sciences Complex.  WOW!  It was breathtaking.  Then we hired a professional estimator to provide a budget view of the concept.  And, then we brought out the scalpels and erasers and faced some reality.

Unfortunately, reality doesn't come easy ... or quickly.  It took nearly six months (that’s right, I said six months) to whittle away at the costs and find a means by which we could cut out $8 million.  We were determined to maintain the program, salvage the design, and still maintain some modicum of tolerance for one another.  And, by golly we did it!  On August 15th, six months after the concept was submitted, we had closure.

We are still settling on some interior space location issues among the stakeholders.  In my next blog, I'll describe the 'who and what goes where' and give you a preview of the floor plans.

Who said architecture isn't fun!?