April 27, 2005
University of Michigan establishing Detroit Center at Orchestra Place
DETROIT—The University of Michigan is establishing a new 10,500 square-foot U-M Detroit Center on the ground floor of Orchestra Place. The facility, set to open this fall, will provide a home for dozens of longstanding programs while opening the door to increased or expanded U-M involvement with the community.
"The University of Michigan was founded in Detroit in August 1817, and we have remained committed and connected,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. "Providing a home for our many Detroit projects in the heart of the city's cultural center makes us far more visible and accessible and enables us to be a part of its revitalization. We look forward to the way this center will strengthen the partnership between U-M and Detroiters.”
Eighteen U-M units will participate in the center. The facility will provide offices and space for classes, meetings, exhibitions, lectures and collaborative work while serving as a home base for students and faculty working on projects in Detroit.
Anne Parsons, president and executive director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, said: "In welcoming the University of Michigan to our ‘campus,' the DSO is achieving one of the primary goals that we sought when creating Orchestra Place: to revitalize the Orchestra Hall neighborhood and stimulate new development. The breadth of U-M activities that will take place here is thrilling, furthering the development of this part of the Woodward corridor as a cultural and educational Mecca.”
University faculty, students and staff currently commute from Ann Arbor to work on projects without the benefit of a central headquarters within the city. The lack of academic work space in Detroit also made it difficult for U-M to share information about the broad spectrum of activities the University holds in Detroit.
The center will complement U-M's existing Detroit Admissions Office, located on the fifth floor of 3031 W. Grand Blvd. in the city's New Center area as well as the Legal Assistance for Urban Communities office the U-M Law School runs at 8109 E. Jefferson Ave. U-M has also owned a portion of the Rackham Building, at 60 Farnsworth St., north of Warren Avenue, for more than 60 years. That space has been leased to nearby Wayne State University since the early 1990s.
Examples of the kinds of programs that will be located in the Detroit Center include technology initiatives spearheaded by Larry Gant, of the School of Social Work, whose work includes the Center for Urban Innovation, a partnership with Detroit community organizations seeking to provide access to wireless technology for the entire city. The Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning will use the center to prepare for its annual Detroit Design Charrette that brings 60 or more students to the city for four or five days each January. The School of Art and Design will host its "Detroit Connections” program in the Center, as it works with city elementary schools on a variety of art projects.
"Since my first visit to Detroit seven years ago, I've wanted us to create a more visible physical Detroit presence in the city,'' said Doug Kelbaugh, dean of the College of Architecture + Urban Planning. "If it weren't for Detroit and the human capital and economic wealth that accumulated there in the first half of the 20 th century, U-M would not be what it is today. We value the opportunity to work with Detroit, and look forward to further collaborations with its citizens, community groups, and institutions.”
Paula Allen-Meares, dean of the School of Social Work, noted that the school has been active in the city for decades. She stressed that universities can serve as resources to create opportunity while community members know best what changes and improvements they need. She added, "The U-M School of Social Work has much to learn from the people of Detroit, and can offer them much in return. Together we can truly have a positive impact on the city of Detroit.'
Bryan Rogers, dean of the U-M School of Art and Design, said, "In addition to providing a lively U-M presence in Detroit, the new center will encourage cross-talk and mutual support among those faculty, staff and students working with the Detroit community. Our independent efforts can more readily reinforce each other.'
U-M Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little added, "Our campus in particular has been defined by our commitment to providing the excellence of the University of Michigan in service to the people of metropolitan Detroit.”
U-M's Office of the Provost is showing its strong support by funding half the cost of the center. The remaining amount shared by 17 U-M units: the Schools of Art & Design, Education, Information, Natural Resources and the Environment, Public Health, Nursing, and Social Work; the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, the Ford School of Public Policy, the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning, the Arts of Citizenship Program, the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, U-M-Dearborn, the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Residential College.
The new center will be located in Orchestra Place, at 3663 Woodward Ave., at the confluence of the busy Mack Avenue/Martin Luther King Boulevard corridor. The nearby area includes educational institutions like Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies as well as cultural destinations like the Max M. Fisher Music Center, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Science Center and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, housed in historic Orchestra Hall, expanded during the late 1990s by adding the Orchestra Place office building and more recently, the Max M. Fisher Music Center and land for the new Detroit School of Arts to create a hub for education, entertainment, commercial and cultural activity.
Contact: Joe Serwach