A rust belt oasis, the University of Michigan is spending billions to grow

A rust belt oasis, the University of Michigan is spending billions to grow
by Keith Schneider

The University of Michigan's light is so bright The New York Times has been drawn to its construction boom like a moth to the flame.


An army of ironworkers, masons, carpenters and laborers are swarming the campus of the University of Michigan these days, as the university undertakes a construction campaign budgeted at $2.5 billion, ranking it among the largest university building programs in the United States.

Nine major buildings for science, medicine, health, art, business, sports, food service and student housing are in various stages of construction here. They encompass nearly three million square feet, at a cost of about $1.66 billion. Five others are in the design stage.

This comes after the completion in the last two years of 10 other buildings — for biomedical research, cardiovascular treatment, science, technology, engineering, public health, public policy and drama — covering 1.7 million square feet at a cost of $836.4 million. The square footage in the new and renovated buildings comes to the equivalent of 105 acres.

"Having the right facilities is crucial to a thriving public research university," said Philip J. Hanlon, vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs at the University of Michigan, where the first building was completed in 1840. "We are producing the work force of the future in the industries of the future. And we are doing that even as the help our state government provides is declining."

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