April 17, 2018
by Canadian Architect
The transformation of a landmark building on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor is being celebrated today. The renovation and expansion of Weiser Hall repurposes the mid-century ten-storey tower to create a dynamic learning environment for interdisciplinary study and exchange.
This is Diamond Schmitt Architects’ third project at the university, preceded by the Computer Science and Engineering Building and the Thayer Academic Building. Weiser Hall is now home to the International Institute and associated programs of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.
“We took the structure down to its concrete slabs and columns and redesigned the interior with an entirely new plan,” said Donald Schmitt, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects. “The renewed building now provides flexible, daylit spaces, community clusters and greater accessibility with highly sustainable design features.
The concrete corridors in the formerly named Dennison Building were removed and the columns and ceilings exposed to enlarge open spaces and bring daylight into the building. Each floor has a unique configuration that accommodates learning space, meeting rooms, offices, conference rooms and student and staff lounges. There are four double-height community commons stacked at the southwest corner and each one features a biofilter living wall.
A multi-purpose active learning space on the ground floor is adjacent to a feature stair amphitheatre in an area enlarged by enclosing an overhang with full glazing to create a new gathering place for the school. The top floor is reimagined as an event space, art gallery and boardroom and has floor-to-ceiling bay windows and a commanding view of the campus.
“Weiser Hall is a new, dynamic center for active and engaged learning – home to our interdisciplinary and internationally-focused LSA centers and units,” said Andrew Martin, dean of the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. “It’s gratifying to officially celebrate Weiser Hall’s opening and the collaborative learning its unique design will foster.”
The building has new mechanical and electrical systems and by keeping the new thermal efficient windows to the same dimensions of the original and restoring the brick façade, Weiser Hall preserves its context both with an adjacent building and the campus.