Munger Graduate Residences opens at University of Michigan

July 23, 2015

Munger graduate residence. Munger graduate residence. ANN ARBOR—The new Munger Graduate Residences at the University of Michigan is set to open Aug. 1.

The $155 million, approximately 380,000-square-foot building will house 630 graduate students in a unique high-density residential-academic arrangement. Students from 36 different countries and more than 70 graduate programs will be represented in the new facility. It is located between Division and Thompson streets at Madison Street.

The vision for the facility and program was inspired by philanthropist and U-M alumnus Charles T. Munger, who provided a $110 million gift to fund construction of the residence hall and fellowships for graduate students. From concept to grand opening, the building was constructed over two-and-a-half years. The project cost of $155 million is $30 million below the approved budget of $185 million.

The residence hall is designed for a high level of diversity and interaction among graduate students studying across the university’s 19 schools and colleges. Combining high-quality living standards, attractive amenities and a pioneering design conducive to graduate-level studies, the facility provides opportunities for living and learning never before offered on the U-M campus.

As part of the building’s transdisciplinary vision, Munger residents will live in suites with other graduate students drawn from multiple programs. By bringing together scholars with different approaches, the program aims to break up the traditional silos of graduate work and generate new ideas. As Jeff DeGraff, clinical professor at the Ross School of Business said: “Innovation doesn’t typically happen in disciplines. It happens at the edges of disciplines, it happens between them. And the reason is, the building blocks you need to do something radically new are often found in the next discipline over.”

“It’s a new kind of environment that allows residents to understand new perspectives, solve issues and bring evolved thinking into their careers,” said Greg Merritt, director of the Coleman-Munger Fellows Program and senior associate director of University Housing. “Many of these students have a burning desire to address some of the world’s thorniest problems. The Munger Graduate Residences allows them to voluntarily come together and spark positive change now and in the future.”

Through an essay-based application process, University Housing created a population of diverse origins, thought and professions to launch the first academic year of graduate living and learning within a residence hall. Five graduate students – selected last year as Coleman-Munger Planning Fellows (named for the donor and former U-M president Mary Sue Coleman) – have helped create the program and will guide residents through team projects.

Munger graduate residence suite. Munger graduate residence suite. Munger residents who live together in suites will collaborate on goal-oriented projects to address real-world problems. They will conclude projects by showcasing solutions through presentations, such as TED-style talks or case competitions. Upon project completion and graduation, the university will map where the Munger residents go and trace how they make a difference in the world.

“This living-learning concept is a step beyond town hall squares that economic developers put into communities to encourage interactions, foster learning and create opportunities,” Merritt said.

University President Mark Schlissel said: “Students who earn advanced degrees from the University of Michigan will be expected to lead in environments that are increasingly diverse. The Munger Graduate Residences will provide our graduate and professional students with further opportunities to engage one another across different academic disciplines, backgrounds, and thought, while enriching their educational experience on our campus.”

The furnished apartments have six to seven single-occupancy bedroom suites, each with a private bathroom (select three-bedroom apartments also available). Most apartments exceed 2,700 square feet, with more than 1,000 square feet of living and dining space. Each apartment is equipped with a full kitchen (two refrigerators, two ranges, two microwaves and two dishwashers), laundry machines, an extra half-bath and flat-panel HDTV.

Munger graduate residence rooftop track. Munger graduate residence rooftop track. Community areas on the lower level and eighth floors include study spaces, a seminar room, music practice spaces, social and leisure spaces, a community convenience store, catering kitchen, a fitness center and outdoor rooftop running track. Incubation spaces feature high-speed wifi, 3D printers, and plug-in stations with large monitors for instant interactions.

The facility is on track to achieve Gold LEED certification for sustainability, the first residence hall on campus with that distinction. From the beginning of the project, energy-efficient materials and systems were built into the hall. Environmental-friendly living includes recycling and waste reduction practices.

Integrated Design Solutions in association with Hartman-Cox Architects designed the project.

More information: