More than 50 projects were submitted to the Campus of the Future competition by U-M students from a wide variety of majors and backgrounds. Just how is Michigan being reimagined for the 21st century? Each and every entry is different and brings a unique perspective to the discussion.

Explore the full list of project descriptions below by category and come engage with featured entries at the project showcase on October 26, 2017.

  • Beyster Bluepath

    About 285 million people are estimated to be visually challenged worldwide. Yet buildings, cities and maps are designed with sighted users in mind, making navigation challenging at best and dangerous at worst. This project is building a mobile application that can provide audio navigation instructions. The application—currently being tested in the Beyster Building on North Campus—would elicit user input via voice commands in natural language, locate the user within a building and then provide turn-by-turn instructions to the destination. This solution currently fits into the room and building scales, but the prototype could be scaled further to cover every U-M building, ensuring campus-wide impact in the near future.

  • C2D Hub

    The C2D Hub project is dedicated to developing a private dental clinic model that is ecologically sustainable, can be built in any environment and serves as a multi-purpose learning space for its community. This team is currently conducting interviews with faculty, staff and students of the U-M School of Dentistry, practicing dentists and members of the community to determine the must-have elements of the model. After a visit to the Earthship community in Taos, NM, this project will confer with the architecture firm SmithGroup JJR to help shape the clinic’s blueprints. Deliverables will also include a syllabus for a mini course on sustainable dental buildings and practices and a toolkit for developing the clinic of the future, to be distributed to incoming dentistry students at orientation.

  • Detroit City Study

    Detroit City Study positions itself as a campus-wide design initiative, exploring the possibilities of developing an enhanced educational environment in the city of U-M’s birth through the creation of communal work spaces. In 2016, a DCS pilot focused on entities that are usually separated by space, like Detroit and Ann Arbor, but also U-M’s School of Education and College of LSA. It incubated interdisciplinary research clusters in urban education, placemaking and sustainable humanities, then shared this knowledge through conversations that brought everyone’s voice in. The deliverable for this project would be a written report on the pilot that explores the possibilities of sharing across different academic spatial divisions, and offers new visions for how educational campuses could be structured in the future.

  • An Interactive Education Platform

    This project aims to combine the ancient ideals that enabled the formation of universities with the innovative technologies of the current age. To facilitate this change, lecture halls could be structured like Roman amphitheaters, with multiple podiums to encourage the debate of multiple opinions. Lecture courses, especially in the social sciences, could have an accompanying seminar course enlivened by the participation of on- and off-campus experts. Classroom technology could consist of a touchscreen at each student’s desk, wired to the lecturer’s podium and displaying corresponding interactive content. Imagine how powerful it would be if students could manipulate boundary conditions of a differential equation to see the solution change in real time, or change the exhaust pressure of a rocket engine to watch the formation of shock diamonds.  

  • Living Technology Exhibition Space

    In 2014, the DoIIIT Studio (Designers of Interactive, Intelligent, Internet of Things) was launched at U-M School of Information to support research and design exploring how people can better create and interact with technologies—from augmented reality displays to robots to “enchanted” objects. Some temporary exhibitions have been launched in the studio, but they were limited by space, funding and time. This group proposes to build a permanent exhibition space which would provide more robust demonstrations of technologies, longer-term presentations of novel work and periodic rotation of exhibits, all of which would make the interactive experience available to a wider range of visitors. This proposal is “room-scale,” and will require the renovation of a storage space adjacent to DoIIIT’s workspace.

  • Lorch Hall Lives

    Lorch Hall was the finest facility for an architecture program in the country at its completion in 1928. However, it was rapidly outgrown, forcing the architecture program to move to North Campus and jeopardizing the future use of the original Central Campus building. The building’s namesake had hoped that it would expand from an L-shaped structure to a quadrangle. This project, operating in an alternative reality, follows through on that plan by employing advances in digital fabrication as well as bacteria and agricultural waste to create an ever-growing, living lattice framework for new construction. This project operates at the scale of the building, with a keen awareness of its surroundings. Deliverables will include a digitally fabricated mock-up of the design and renderings of it in context.

  • A Manual of Campus Civic Spaces

    U-M’s North Campus is a truncated world that distances itself from Ann Arbor, with dispersed buildings that discourage pedestrian traffic and limit the development of civic space. To remedy this, this project looks to the past: to 1952, when the original plan for North Campus was developed. The preliminary work of this bicentennial project, set as a 1952 narrative projection into the future, imagines a divergent course of historical campus development, one in which postwar U-M expanded along the Huron River rather than on the heights north of it. This will reveal the current weaknesses of civic space on North Campus, and also allow U-M to address those weaknesses by envisioning alternative spatial configurations and radically innovative planning solutions.

    Categories: Physical Space

  • Michigan Aquaponics

    Michigan Dining has made significant strides in increasing the overall sustainability of the dining halls at U-M, but there still remains room for improvement. Our student organization suggests that improvement can be achieved by implementing aquaponics: a combination of conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Preliminary projections estimate that a system of just two 3,750-gallon tanks would be able to consistently supply a dining hall with enough food to serve all of the students who eat there. This project’s proposed campus-scale solution will help educate all students on how we can create a tangible impact and promote a sustainable future, all while dining on wholesome food.

  • Music House Sessions

    It is a struggle to find space at U-M where non-SMTD students can express themselves. The long-term goal of this project is to develop a student arts center at U-M: a dedicated space that serves the needs of amateur artists in the same way that the Central Campus Recreation Building caters to amateur athletes. To generate support for such a structure, this group will create a monthly series of performances at various venues: the “Music House Sessions.” Each would include a jam session, an open mic period, time for networking and educational presentations and a live performance. Participants will also be encouraged to bring their ideas and needs to the table. This will facilitate the development of an inclusive, student-centered plan of action to achieve our final goal.

  • Office Wall of the Future

    Guardian has developed large-area, transparent touch-enabled (LATTE) glass. The focus for this project will be to develop a functional prototype of LATTE that can be incorporated into a conference or classroom.

  • Pedestrian Priority on Central Campus

    Almost every day at U-M, there are close calls between cars, bicycles and pedestrians. To help prevent a tragedy from happening, this project would like to examine the conversion of certain portions of Central Campus roadway into pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly routes. The primary deliverable will come in a report which will analyze several scenarios, including full pedestrian-priority malls, bus and service vehicle-only lanes and bike lanes. The report will also detail proposed costs, parking revenue replacement, traffic flow impacts, bus rerouting, local business impacts, service access and how to sell the project to the city. Additionally, it will consider impacts in relation to existing campus planning documents and the proposed Ann Arbor Connector.

    Categories: Mobility Physical Space

  • Personalizing the Future

    The future we all dreamed about is here, and gives students more access than ever to material and research through online media. Yet, face-to-face interactions between peers and teachers are declining, resulting in disengaging and impersonal classes. What can be done to improve this situation? The solution may be found in critical improvements in classroom design. This project proposes that classrooms be outfitted with semi-circle seating designed to position students side-by-side in groups of five. This would enable the students to face the professor, but also face each other–facilitating small-group discussions. The professor could also move easily between groups of students to comment or assist. By encouraging this physical proximity, this approach can give students of the future a better and more personal education.  

    Categories: Physical Space

  • Pop-Up Learning Labs

    The campus of the future must break free of its institutional and geographic barriers to branch out into surrounding communities, create experiential learning options for students, engage individuals with limited access to higher education and provide space for interdisciplinary collaboration to solve local problems. The proposed solution is to create pop-up learning labs. To test this idea, this team proposes to develop a pilot pop-up lab in Ann Arbor with the opportunity to operate at three scales. At the room scale, the lab will take the form of interactive gatherings between town and gown. At the building scale, the lab will function as a live-in learning community. At the campus scale, the lab will serve as an interactive, engaging set of satellite spaces around campus.

  • Regents Plaza Redesign

    Regents Plaza, an outdoor space on U-M’s Central Campus, is nearly 50 years old and it shows. Its current design is outdated and is seldom used by students — or other community members. This project aims to reimagine, redesign and eventually transform this space. It will showcase U-M’s commitment to sustainability and intelligent design by increasing the social and ecological function of Regents Plaza. The final deliverable will be a finalized design, budget and plan for the redesign of this space. If implemented, it has the potential to impact students, faculty, staff and other community members for decades to come.

    Categories: Physical Space

  • A Satellite Campus on Mars

    The University of Michigan Bioastronautics and Life Support Systems (BLiSS) project team believes that if human civilization is to succeed in space, then the University of Michigan must be a leader in the endeavor. This project will develop a design for a U-M campus on Mars, as it might appear during the university’s tricentennial in 2117. This design would include but not be limited to the engineering of buildings; suggested scientific research to be conducted on the planet; curriculum considerations; and student life, health and recreation ideas. Input from students, faculty, staff and alumni (especially those employed at leading space agencies and organizations) will be used so that the widest possible worldview can be incorporated into the Mars campus design.

    Categories: Pedagogy Physical Space

  • A Sustainable Living Community

    We are regularly told that Americans live an unsustainable lifestyle and that we need to consume, pollute and waste less. But what would a sustainable living situation look like? Our approach leverages U-M’s housing system to teach students the skills needed to live more sustainably—now and in the future. This project proposes that the university pilot a building-scale behavioral intervention for willing students to learn more about how sustainability education can move beyond the classroom and into residential life. The building could track energy, waste reduction, composting, use of public transportation, small-scale gardening and more—all in a social and supportive space. If successful, this project could be scalable to the whole campus, giving U-M an excellent opportunity to showcase its commitment to sustainability.

  • A Sustainable Living Complex

    The U-M campus of the future should intentionally connect students to the environment. One way to achieve that goal would be to build a Sustainable Living Complex, comprised of small living units for 30-50 students and shared learning and experimental spaces. The complex could be built on the grounds of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, where the student farm and other resources would provide rich programming opportunities and embed students in an eco-friendly lifestyle. Suggested residents would include sophomores through seniors and a handful of graduate students from a variety of academic backgrounds: all driven to live sustainably and to lead that effort on campus, in the state and in the world. The physical infrastructure—centered around a large, multipurpose, “green” building—would actively support research, inquiry, risk-taking and creativity.

  • Sustainable Residence Halls

    The university houses about 10,000 students in 18 residence halls. These buildings represent a critical mass of energy usage and waste creation on campus, but they also provide a unique opportunity to make significant inroads in helping U-M achieve its campus sustainability goals. Operating at both the building and campus scale, this project intends to suggest ways to make U-M halls “greener.” One 􏰀deliverable will be a computer simulation of a redesigned residence hall. The team also plans to report on the positive environmental impact of such a redesign in comparison to the existing hall. It will advocate for involving the on-campus student population in the sustainability experience, in the hopes that it might inspire the environmentally conscious leaders of tomorrow.

  • The UGLoo

    The vision of this project is to build a temporary, heated structure that can be erected over North Campus’ Gerstacker Grove during the winter, transforming the landscape into a usable “hang-out” space and source of mental well-being for students, faculty, and staff. The proposed structure would be a transparent, cushioned shell without conventional supports. This would minimize disturbance to the natural landscape and maximize usable space inside, while also using as little material as possible. During the spring, summer and fall, the structure would be removed and stored, leaving the grove open for its current use.

  • Underground Campus

    In near the future, U-M will face a problem centered around creating more space for further development. This project’s radical idea for the university of the future is to construct new buildings and environments beneath Central Campus. The relationship between existing public spaces (e.g., the Diag) and educational spaces (e.g., Hill Auditorium, Michigan League, Rackham Graduate School) could be mirrored on the lower level, facilitating wayfinding. Additional structures–like a particle collider, which would take up a great deal of room on the surface–could also find a home underground. To facilitate access, an underground autonomous vehicle system could be developed.

    Categories: Mobility Physical Space

  • What If…

    What if U-M had never moved out of Detroit? How would the city and university have shaped each other? And what can the university do now to help shape Michigan’s largest metropolis? One pressing need is to address the glut of abandoned homes. From 2014-16, Detroit demolished 11,000 of these buildings: a necessary process that nonetheless created an enormous amount of construction waste and also a surplus of undeveloped land. In this proposal, this project will illustrate how this construction waste be used to enhance the topography of the land and create a continuous green space in the city benefiting animals and humans.

    Categories: Physical Space