A reopening ceremony of Eastern Michigan University’s recently constructed, Pray-Harrold, was held Tuesday morning in the student commons area on the second floor of the building.
President Susan Martin, Roy Wilbanks, chairman of the Board of Regents, Tom Venner, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Bill Barnett, Student Body President during the building’s first opening in 1969 and current Student Body President Jelani McGadney spoke of the renovation process to those who gathered.
“For a long time, students had been asking for the building to reflect the values of the campus,” McGadney stated. “And I think that has been achieved…This is really the heart of the university.”
The seven-story building received improvements to its 75 classrooms in countless ways; Safety and security systems were upgraded along with the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Instructional and social spaces, offices and corridors have been architecturally modified for improved appearance and functionality.
In effort to increase energy efficiency, a Greenwall System was added. The new design consists of vine walls growing outside of the building’s two main entrances. The vines were positioned to regulate heating and cooling levels by absorbing the sun’s rays. For that reason, the university if seeking certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
During the process, 60,000 pounds of ceiling tile, 30,000 pounds of metal, over 7,000 pounds of lighting materials and 200 tons of masonry blocks were recycled.
The project cost $42 million ($31.5 million funded by the State of Michigan; the rest paid by EMU)—$3 million less than the school anticipated since it was finished a year earlier than planned. Its price to open in 1969 cost just $5.6 million.
A year and a half after it was closed for construction, faculty and staff have moved out of their temporary ‘swing spaces’ scattered around campus and into Pray-Harrold to begin the fall semester.
“This is my last year here at Eastern, so I’m really glad they were able to finish it early,” senior Kelly Handolf said. “It turned out even better than I expected.”
Concluding the ceremony, a commemorative plaque was named in honor of the university’s accomplishment to reconstruct the building.