Campus got some big updates over the summer

September 12, 2019

Fall 2019 starts with several upgraded labs and some major progress on our newest building.

 Students using the new computers and 90-inch monitors in the College of Business' Bloomberg Lab.
Students using the new computers and 90-inch monitors in the College of Business' Bloomberg Lab.

From May to August, facilities teams took advantage of sparse foot-traffic and lighter summer course schedules to tackle dozens of improvements to campus grounds and buildings. Here are a few they’ll appreciate you noticing — and one exciting project in the works this fall.

ELB construction progress

If you were away all summer, one of the most dramatic changes to campus is the major progress on the Engineering Lab Building. Dare we say it: With a good chunk of the building’s brick exterior in place, and the east-facing “tower” now clearly recognizable, it’s starting to look a lot like the artist renderings that have been tiding us over. Much harder to see is all the progress on the interior of the building. The concrete floors are now in place, along with most of the interior wall framing. And the team is even creeping closer to finalizing a furniture order. Expect modern chairs and desks that are easy to move and reconfigure, combined with a few rustic touches. For example, the wood from a mature tree that had to be removed for construction is being recycled into side tables for the ELB’s student hangout spaces.

The Bloomberg Finance Lab

The College of Business’ flagship learning space got a nearly down-to-the-studs renovation over the summer. The Bloomberg Finance Lab now features all new computers and monitors, new desks and chairs, four huge TV monitors at the front of the room, and high-efficiency LED lighting up above. The seating layout was also totally reconfigured, with a semi-circle layout replacing the small-group tables that left some students with their backs to the lecturer. The only upgrade COB students and faculty are still waiting on is a giant stock ticker that will be installed any day now. One cool thing the students will be using the space for this semester: A finance class where — with help from an anonymous donor — the students manage an investment fund with real money. We’ll have more on that soon.

Anthropology Department renovation

Over in the CASL Building, anthropology faculty and students have been coping with a space that was spread out between two floors. All the faculty offices were on the fourth floor, but the anthropology lab and its hundreds of artifacts were on the third floor. After a major renovation this summer, the lab and offices are now all in the same third-floor space, along with better, more secure storage for the collection of fossil casts, pottery shards and other archeological finds. “These lab items may not be economically valuable, but if you are curious — which we all are — and pick something up to check it out and put it back in the wrong place, it could completely change research findings to something inaccurate,” says Associate Professor of Anthropology John Chenoweth. “Having the items secure was very important.”

Stormwater system maintenance

Stormwater systems aren’t as flashy as new labs, but how we handle big precipitation events plays an important role in keeping campus safe and accessible. Bigger storms are making flooding more intense across the metro region. And with UM-Dearborn basically located within the floodplain of the nearby Rouge River, it takes some extra effort to keep campus dry. Environmental Health and Safety Director Tom Perez told us more than 400 storm drains are needed to keep both the main and Fairlane Center campuses dry during heavy rains, and over time, these drains can get blocked with debris and garbage. Contractors clear and service major sections of this system each summer, which Perez says keeps the Rouge cleaner and our parking lots flood-free.

Coming soon: Campus placemaking

With summer projects behind us, UM-Dearborn Director of Facilities Planning Kate Pepin is already looking ahead to fall. One of the big ideas she’s excited to dig into next: A campus “placemaking” initiative that explores ways to convert locations into spaces that can be a magnet for people and new development. A good example is the Block M near the University Center, which was the first step in this project. Other ideas designed to enhance the student experience are being finalized now, with construction beginning in 2020.