April 28, 2022

Michigan Union Renovation awarded Gold by ASID WI.


Photography Credit: Michigan Photography

The American Society for Interior Designers (ASID) Wisconsin Chapter recently held its 2021 Design Excellence Awards Gala, where Workshop was honored to receive GOLD for the renovation of the historic Michigan Union. Erica Proefrock, who led the Workshop interiors team, graciously accepted the award on behalf of the firm.

The Michigan Union has a rich history. Designed by architects Pond and Pond, and the union first opened in 1919. The renovation restored the beauty of the original building while fulfilling student ambitions to reassert the Union’s role as a vibrant social hub and locus of inclusivity, innovation, and involvement. Students advocated for and inspired the project at all phases, from planning and approvals to programming and design. The project's many innovations include a spectacular, glass-covered courtyard for students to gather and celebrate as a community, a coworking-inspired “IdeaHub” to serve over 1,600 student organizations, places for inclusion and care, and expanded lounges for studying while staying connected socially.


With interior finishes, much care was taken to preserve the history of the building and to tell its stories through the renovation. A large brass “M,” a relic of the building, was salvaged and positioned in the center of the new interior courtyard, inlaid in a herringbone end grain wood. A lounge area and new double-sided fireplace sits above where the original pool was once located and the floor pattern identifying this area is a nod to the original building plan. Custom tile showcasing the Pond brother’s signature squash blossoms surround the bronze drinking fountains, hand crafted by tile artisan and Michigan alumni Nawal Motawi of Motawi Tile. The gentle curvature of the new welcome desk is reminiscent of the original window trim’s decorative swoop. A balance of historic preservation, modern technology, inclusivity for all, and ease of care and maintenance was crucial to the design.

To learn more about the project, click here.

The Michigan Union Renovation project was also recently recognized by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), receiving a Facility Design Award for the over $55 million category. Read the full news release here.


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