Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy – University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

An 80,000 sq. ft. 5-story building uses a long-span vierendeel frame and transfer girders to allow an open auditorium and classrooms below faculty offices and an exterior plaza. Classical masonry detailing accomplished with innovative steel shelf supports.

The building’s three primary wings are organized in a U-shape to maximize the amount of natural light received by the spaces within and to embrace an east-facing terrace on the second level. A 200-seat auditorium, a 100-seat lecture hall, and other classrooms have been located on the ground floor, accessible from the south entrance, while much-frequented graduate student spaces have been located on the second floor, organized to create an internal promenade punctuated by windows and doors leading out onto the courtyard terrace. The upper three floors house offices and research centers interspersed with seminar rooms, lounges, and corridor alcoves that will foster social interaction in this unique academic community.

The anticipated soil bearing pressure at the site was 6,000 psf to 8,000 psf from other projects on campus. Based on the pressuremeter testing, the foundations could be designed at a higher soil bearing pressure of 12,000 psf. This significantly reduced the size of interior foundations and associated construction costs.