Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

University to Replace Frieze with "North Quad"

8. October 2004 • Murph
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University President Mary Sue Coleman has announced plans to tear down the Frieze Building and construct a 500-resident dorm by 2008, tentatively named North Quad. A concept, budget, and choice of architectural firm are to be presented in December, with the demolition of Frieze to occur in 2006.

Coleman intends for the dorm to contain suite-style rooms for upperclassmen, as well as dining and academic facilities:

“I envision this space as a magnet location on campus – creating a density of activity, including dining options – that will be available day and night for students and faculty,” Coleman said in a memo to Courant and Harper. “Shared spaces might include meeting rooms, production facilities, studios, classrooms, seminar rooms or a small auditorium – spaces that can be used by faculty and students together or individually, for creative or scholarly projects.”

The Theatre and Drama Department, currently in Frieze, will be moved to the not-yet-constructed Walgreen Drama Center on North Campus, and other departments currently in Frieze are to be relocated on Central Campus.

Replacing Frieze with a new building is consistant with University’s recent trend of replacing old buildings and expanding upwards, rather than acquiring new land—North Quad is expected to be 6 or 7 stories tall, similar to the recent Corner House Lofts building across Washington from the site.

Update, 4:02pm, Richard Murphy: Predictably, the Old Fourth Ward Association and others are objecting to the University’s plans:

“I think it’s an absolutely abominable decision,” said Louisa Pieper, who worked with Detter on the downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Program and retired as the city’s historic preservation coordinator in 1999.

“It’s the wrong place for a dorm,” she added. “And it’s a really bad move when it comes to the rest of the town. That building has tremendous historical significance for people who have grown up and lived in town.”

Hank Baier, U-M’s associate vice president for facilities and operations, said preserving any part of the Frieze Building would be expensive and the building can’t be fully reconfigured to meet the needs of the university.

The University’s demolition and replacement of Frieze do not have to be approved by any City of Ann Arbor agency.

See also Ann Arbor is Overrated’s discussion of the issue. End update


  1. ”...but it’s also, I think, a very pretty building” ...spoken like someone who hasn’t set foot inside of it for thirty years. This Asian Studies major will be bringing a picnic basket and a kazoo to the demolition.
       —Liana    Oct. 8 '04 - 06:35PM    #
  2. It’s a fabulous location for a dorm, but I do wish they could at least preserve the original part of the building (i.e. not the bad Modernist addition(s)). I really thought they’d be exiling more people to North Campus, so I’m impressed with the plan overall. Maybe ground-floor retail is too much to ask?
       —Brandon    Oct. 9 '04 - 12:02AM    #
  3. It’d be nice if the design of the new dorm were something other than crappy modernist—it wouldn’t be impossible to have some sort of greek revivalist (or whatever that style is called) on the bottom and something unobtrusive above.

    The University just ain’t in the business of retail (and should it be?). Tearing down a derelict building and replacing it with a much taller, much needed dorm is a laudable move in my opinion.

    And yes, I expected them to put it on North Campus, too—I’m a little surprised that Frieze got the tap over, say, the parking lot across the street from NCRB.
       —Murph    Oct. 9 '04 - 09:01AM    #
  4. Well, the U is in the business of retail (see the Michigan Union/Pierpont Commons) ... but whether it should be, is definitely a good question to ask. I don’t think it’ll kill the street to not have retail (it doesn’t at the moment, and they just added some across the street)...
       —Scott T.    Oct. 10 '04 - 02:43PM    #