4B - Thursday, March 31, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com "I
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director for the design and construction
of the Center (then known as the Media
Union), said the team was inspired by its
vision of what the future would be.
"The physical location of collections
would be less important," Frank said,
referring to libraries of the future. "A
place that wasn't simply about storing
printed materials but about ... having a
place where people could learn how to
create digital materials."
That foresight was quite remarkable -
the Internet was in its nascent stages and
the thought of digitizing books seemed
like something ripped from a Philip K.
Dick story - and it led to the decision to
place the majority of the physical collec-
tion in compact shelving in the basement.
today shows the fruits of this decision -
originally a controversial one, according
to Frank. Instead of dominating the facil-
ity with stacks and stacks of books, the
second and third floors of the Dude are
populated by group study rooms, clus-
ters of workstations and study tables - a
reflection of Duderstadt's belief that stu-
dents learn best by interacting with each
other. It also freed up space to add a Digi-
tal Media Commons, which now includes
a media conversion facility, recording
studios and a 3-D lab - all accessible to
any University student.
The program design for the Dude was
all about giving students access to the
tools of the future and maximizing their
creativity. The architecture, on the other
hand, was all about attractingstudents to
the building and making sure they had a
comfortable work environment.
For the building's design, the Univer-
sity hired the late famed architect Albert
Kahn's namesake firm, whose architects
were sent around the world for an idea-
"(The architects) came back with some
interesting designs," Duderstadt said.
"One of them was for the Pompidou Cen-
ter in Paris, which has all the pipes on the
"We said 'No, we don't think that'll
work,' "he chuckled.
The architects eventually came up
with the design seen today - a grand
atrium with glass walls letting the sun-
light beam in, towering brick pillars both
inside and outside, sleek glass elevators
and a perfectly symmetrical system of
"I referred to this as kind of a post-
modernist version of the Temple of Kar-
nak ... almost a 3,000 year old design,"
The robust design was part of the
plan to make the building "spectacular,"
according to Frank.
"People living on North Campus had
always viewed themselves as living in
Siberia," Frank said. "So one of the goals
was to make this building a 'destination
building,' not just for North Campus, but
for people from Central Campus to come
up here, even if they didn't have a class
The Dude's blueprint was drawn
with students' needs in mind. There are
countless quiet touches that might go
unnoticed - the paint, the surfaces, the
architectural lines, the art in the eleva-
tor shafts - all planned to make students'
time in the building more pleasant.
Even one of the most common com-
plaints about the building - the dueling
escalators that only go up from the first
to second floors - is a necessary evil. As
Frank explained, the two "up" escalators
force anyone leaving to come behind the
circulation desk and pass through the
security scanners, allowing the Dude to
stay open around the clock and only have
a few employees on staff
As the only academic building con-
stantly open during the school year, it's
an ideal fit for the study habits of most
"Probably the best thing about (the
Dude) is that it's open 24 hours, soI have a
place to work or access CAEN (Computer
Aided Engineering Network) any time of
the day, which is incredibly convenient,"
said Engineering senior Gregory Galy-
anov, who spends about 20 to 30 hours a
week in the building.
"It's awfullytall," Galyanov said of the
Dude's massive atrium. "Which gives a
nice sense of openness."
ThDude has also allowed students to
drive its evolution since it first opened in
"The students essentially view this
as their own building," Duderstadt said.
"And it is their building, so we are very
attentive to what the students want."
The building opened a coffee shop for
students early on, at a time when it was
discouraged to eat in libraries. Addition-
ally, students are continually surveyed to
see changing preferences in technology,
be it Windows, Macs or Linux machines
- changes that are often then adopted.
The Dude's model has proven to be so
successful, it has been imitatedby several
universities around the country, includ-
ing Yale, the University of Southern Cali-
fornia and the University of Texas, which
sent an entire delegation, including its
president, to survey the Center.
In true tradition to the student body's
influence on the building, the Duderstadt
Center's omnipresent nickname was
coined the minute it was renamed for the
"When they dedicated (the build-
ing), students hung signs all over in the
middle of the night, hanging on balloons
that said'The Dude Abides,"' Duderstadt
recalled. "I didn't know what that was at
the time and someone said, I had to see
'The Big Lebowski' to understand what
Because of the founders' extraordi-
nary foresight, The Dude certainly does
abide - and will continue to do so for
decades to come.
the best feelings at U of M," LSA sopho-
more Abigail Meert said. "I take classes in
Angell just so I have an excuse to walk up
to the building from State Street. It really
is a gorgeous building, and there's no way
you'd get that feeling if you walked into
other places like, say, Dennison."
Despite its beauty, Angell Hall was not
large enough to accommodate the rap-
idly growing University enrollment for
long. The destruction by fire of the first
Haven Hall (which was originally a sepa-
rate Law building to the north) spurred
on plans for multiple additions to the
back of Angell Hall. University Hall was
finally demolished, and construction for
Mason and Haven Halls was completed
Mason Hall was built to house class-
rooms, while Haven was utilized as a
center for administrative offices. The
designs of these new halls diverged
noticeably from their predecessor's Par-
thenon-like elegance, since the neo-clas-
sicism that had been favored in the '20s
had been phased out and replaced by the
In a random survey by The Michigan Daily, seven of 11 students polled said Dennison was their W
least favorite building on campus.
From Page 1B
in the Taubman College of Architecture
and Urban Planning.
"Frankly, you hardly notice it in spite
of its size," Fishman said.
According to Fishman, there are two
theories that speak to architecture on
college campuses. One of these theories
suggests that each building should have
the ability to bask alone in its architec-
tural beauty and integrity. Angell Hall
and the Law Quad fall into this category.
The other proposes that buildings on a
university campus simply function by
"Dennison, in my view, is simply one of
those buildings that just fits in," Fishman
said. "It does its job, but not in any spe-
cific way ... It just delivers a basic look."
Back in the day, the Harlan Hatcher
Graduate Library was considered to be
the focal point of central campus, sitting
squarely in the Diag's center. According
to Fishman, this building's intent wasnto
make a statement about the University
- but Dennison has always been a back-
ground building, Fishman said.
The architectural legend Albert
Kahn, who at his peak in the early 20th
century was responsible for 19 percent
of all industrial buildings in the United
States, founded the firm Albert Kahn
Associates (now simply called "Kahn")
in 1895. Soon after, Kahn's buildings
began to appear not only throughout the
country - like the building for Ford's
Model T assembly line - but also on the
According to Sally Bund, an archivist
at the Bentley Historical Library, one of
Kahn's great accomplishments was that
he revolutionized reinforced concrete in
tall buildings like Dennison.
"With this strong structural system,
he could create a lot of flexible space for
open windows," Bund said.
However, the 12-story tower and
accompanying two-story auditorium of
modernismofthe'50s. Mason and Haven
were given simpler designs that, despite
contrasting with Angell Hall aestheti-
cally, greatly augmented the functional-
ity of the building by creating one highly
integrated structure whose classrooms,
study areas and offices functioned as one
efficient network. Despite these obvious
stylistic differences, the building's dif-
ferent visual layouts are seen as a posi-
tive aspect of its architectural character.
"I don't think that the differences in
architectural style take away from the
building," LSA sophomore Sarah Abra-
ham said. "I like Angell, but you don't
really see inside of it from State Street -
I like that the big windows on the Mason
and Haven side let you see what's going
on inside the building. It has more of
an actual college feel to it since you can
see students there walking around and
studying on the window benches."
The complex received another addi-
tion much later, in the form of Tisch Hall.
The smallest structure in the complex,
it was built in 1996 as a connector used
Dennison was designedin1964byKahn's
associates, after Kahn's death in 1942.
"The firm that carried on (Kahn's)
work was very competent in retaining
the large scale process that adorns the
University's campus," Fishman said.
"But for whatever reason, they didn't
have the genius that Kahn himself had."
Fishman added: "Dennison basically
delivers space in an efficient way."
On the other hand, the building has a
very logical and straightforward design
that you expect from an architect but
don't always get, accordingto Fishman.
"It does the job," he said.
From a student perspective, the build-
ing has made a similar impression. 0
"I wouldn't say it's the worst building
on campus, I mean, the Natural Science
Building's auditorium has no leg room,"
said LSA sophomore Ellen Stults. "If I
ranked it and one was the worst, Denni-
son's probably a two or a three. It doesn't
really have any attractive features, just
one hall with rooms going off of it."
According to Fishman, the era in
which Dennison was designed may play
into what he believes to be a design that
isn't intentionally beautiful.
"I think that the integrity (of Denni-
son) is reflective of the '60s," Fishman
said. "The idea that a university build-
ing should be elaborately detailed was
pretty much dead at that point. Partially
because of the sheer expense of it, but
also the lack of people who weretalented
enough to carry out such brickwork. At
the time, to be modern was to use plain,
simple, basic geometry, a building was to
be well proportioned but not snazzy."
But regardless of what students or
professors may think about Dennison's
appearance, countless students have
had classes there at some in their college
careers, as several departments hold
classes in it. If doing its job is the pur-
pose, then Dennison has succeeded, as
it seems no one on campus can manage
without it. But if architectural aesthet-
ics are desired, students should look to
other buildings on campus.
to bridge an awkward gap between the
ends of Haven and Angell Hall, allow-
ing people to pass between the buildings
more easily. Additions to the Angell Hall
complex have always been done with a
goal of making the buildings function
smoothly as one large entity, in which
time and shifting tastes have created a
visual timeline of the University's archi-
"The designs of the buildings are very
complementary, even though they repre-
sent different architectural expressions,"
Gott said. "The history of the building's
expansion helps explain how this single
building has come to lookthe way itdoes,
and how the architecture has evolved
along with the different time frames of
the building's additions."
The unusual design of the Angell Hall
complex only complements the story of
the building's necessary development
from a solitary limestone edifice into the
sprawling network of classrooms, offices
and auditoriums that remains a social
and academic hub for the University.
The two escalators tothe second floor at the Duderstadt allow it to be open at all hours.
From Page 1B
invaluable interconnectivity and com-
plementary programmatic spaces, so the
classrooms, auditoriums and office spac-
es all work holistically."
Angell Hall was the first of the four
buildings to be constructed, and its
imposing effect on observers is as pow-
erful now as it was during the early
years of its completion. Finished in 1924,
the four-story limestone building was a
response to a dire need for more space at
a time when University enrollment was
rapidly swelling. Coping with this influx
of students required a new building
that would eventually replace Univer-
sity Hall, which stood where present-
day Mason and Haven Halls exist and
was considered a central point around
which the University functioned. Angell
Hall was designed to be the answer to
the growing student population, and was
erected directly in front of University
Hall in anticipation that the latter would
be demolished soon after.
The striking neo-classical design of
Angell makes it the most iconic of the
four halls. Its architect Albert Kahn
was inspired by the aesthetics of nearby
Alumni Memorial Hall (now the Uni-
versity of Michigan Museum of Art) and
the Lincoln Memorial, which had been
designed by one of his close friends,
Henry Bacon. The building needed to
be spacious enough to act as an efficient
multi-purpose facility, holding class-
rooms and, at the time, the offices of the
University president and the dean and
the College of Literature, Science and
Kahn's efforts were overwhelmingly
successful, and the University was grant-
ed not only more room for expansion but
also a building that to this day acts as a
stunning visual gateway into the rest of
the University. His mastery of architec-
tural grandeur is evident in the attention
that the hall receives even today.
"Walking up to Angell Hall is one of
The original buildling in the Angell Hall complex was Angell Hall itself.
Mason and Haven Halls iere completed in 1952 and Tisch Hall was comleted in 1996.