Alfred Taubman gives $12.5 million for architecture, urban planning facilities at U-M

Alfred Taubman gives $12.5 million for architecture, urban planning facilities at U-M

ANN ARBOR—Real estate developer A. Alfred Taubman has committed $12.5 million to the University of Michigan to help fund a sweeping renovation project that will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, one of the nation’s leading programs on the built environment.

Taubman’s gift follows his $30-million donation 15 years ago to U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning—the single largest gift ever to an architecture program in America. From that gift, $5 million was earmarked for future renovations of the architecture and urban planning facilities. With this latest gift, Taubman’s lifetime giving to the university now totals $154.7 million, including gifts for medical research, health care and the arts.

“If anyone understands the importance and value of a well-designed space it is Alfred Taubman,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. “This latest gift demonstrates his unparalleled commitment to the success of University of Michigan students and faculty as they pursue their studies and scholarship.”

A legend in retailing, Taubman studied architecture at U-M before founding his own real estate company in 1950. The firm flourished across the country, developing upscale shopping malls that re-envisioned retail design. Taubman’s memoir, “Threshold Resistance,” is named for one of his most innovative design concepts: the open-front store that eliminates the barrier between shopper and merchandise.

Taubman’s latest donation to U-M will enable a $28-million renovation and expansion at Taubman College. A committee of faculty and staff selected the architectural firm of Preston Scott Cohen Inc. in conjunction with Integrated Design Solutions to design the project.

Built in 1974, the college’s current facilities have never been renovated. The new facilities will better align with the innovative interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning for which the college is known.

“By any measure, the college’s people and programs are among the very best in the nation,” Taubman said. “I think it’s important that the college’s physical environment better reflect and support that level of excellence.”

In preparation for the project, Taubman and Dean Monica Ponce de Leon researched architectural designs that best support an interdisciplinary and collaborative learning model. They visited and analyzed various schools of architecture and planning nationwide. This research will serve as the basis for the project moving forward.

In recognition of this significant commitment from Taubman toward construction of the expansion and renovation of the Art and Architecture Building, the U-M Regents today approved the naming of the new A. Alfred Taubman Wing.

“At Taubman College, we pride ourselves on having developed innovative curriculums that anticipate and respond to the dramatic transformations that architecture and urban planning are undergoing,” Ponce de Leon said. “As a result of Mr. Taubman’s gift, our facilities will support our teaching philosophy and allow us to remain at the forefront of the disciplines that most impact the built environment.”

Architecture and planning have long followed a project-based approach to learning. The renovation and expansion at U-M’s Taubman College will dramatically transform classrooms and studio spaces to break free of the traditional master-instructor model and will instead function as spaces where students can collaborate, supported by interdisciplinary teams of faculty.

The creation of a large community commons will provide both a social hub and a much-needed review space for project-based courses. The building renovation further aims to give identity to each of the programs housed at the college with student lounges geared toward architecture and planning, as well as doctoral studies. Additional faculty offices also are planned as part of the renovation.

Read the official press release on the U-M News Service website

Quotes from around Taubman College:

“Enough thanks cannot be given to Mr. Taubman for his support of our school and our students. On behalf of all of my peers, I would like to express my gratitude for his continuing commitment to scholarships as well as his generous contribution towards providing the students and faculty with the new space to expand research, collaborate, and learn. The impact of his generosity is felt every day. Thank you Mr. Taubman!”Caitlin Cashner, President of Taubman’s Architectural Representative Committee (ARC)

“The Urban Planning Students Association is thrilled to hear the news about another incredibly generous donation from Mr. Taubman. As the college and its mission continue to grow, UPSA is looking forward to seeing this space accommodate the unique needs of the MUP students while integrating students from all of the programs in the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning. UPSA is particularly excited by the opportunities this space will provide for collaboration across the programs and showcasing the excellent work that the planning students are producing.”Christopher Herlich and Charles Tso, Co-Chairs of the Urban Planning Student Association

“Our organization was very excited to hear about this renovation. As a group of interdisciplinary students this increases our connection to the college in many ways. We cannot thank Mr. Taubman enough for this generous gift and his commitment to Taubman College.”Lori Smithey, President of the Planning and Architecture Research Group (PARG)

“The new building will increase our dedicated space for studio courses and provide more informal meeting space for planning students to gather. It will also provide more flexibility to use lecture rooms easily for breakout discussions. This expansion will be a great boon for the planning program.”Richard Norton, Chair of the Urban Planning program

“New and refurbished facilities will provide the architecture program with the much needed space for our growing studio and research-based degrees, while creating formal and informal opportunities for collaboration and conversation across all the programs of the college.”
Sharon Haar, Chair of Architecture program

A legacy of philanthropy

As a generous supporter of the university, Taubman is serving as vice chair of U-M’s recently launched Victors for Michigan campaign that seeks to raise $4 billion to support three university priorities: student support, engaged learning and bold ideas. He is also co-chairing the campaign council for the U-M Health System’s component of the campaign.

In 2009, Taubman received the David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership, a prestigious award given to dedicated Michigan supporters whose service emulates the commitment of the late David Hermelin, a U-M friend and volunteer fundraiser.