Campus buildings in the news

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Wayne State’s urban innovation district near New Center takes shape

Ever since a working group convened to discuss the matter in 2014, Wayne State University has been working to create an “Innovation District” near New Center. Those plans finally seem to be coming together. Last year, the university purchased the NextEnergy Center, now called the Industry Innovation Center (I2C), on Burroughs Street across from TechTown Detroit. Those three partners have teamed up to create Detroit Urban Solutions, which is taking a multidisciplinary approach to address issues facing cities. One block away, Wayne State opened the Integrative Biosciences Center (IBio) in 2015, which similarly takes a multidisciplinary approach to health research. TechTown was founded by Wayne State in 2000, and though it has since become an independent nonprofit, still works in close partnership with the university’s Office of Economic Development. Wayne State has also begun to release details of its master plan, and Emily Thompson, place-based initiatives manager at WSU’s Office of Economic Development, says this redesign aligns with the aims of that plan. “One goal of the master plan was to create better north-south connectivity across campus,” she says. “With more activity, it’s more likely to draw the university up that way. So whatever we do with I2C on will improve walkability as a whole.”
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New arena approved for WSU basketball and Pistons’ G League affiliate

In May of this year, Wayne State’s board of governors approved plans for the construction of an arena that will host Wayne State men’s and women’s basketball games, as well as contests for the Pistons’ G League affiliate. Rob Fournier, Wayne State director of athletics, expects the arena — which he said will have a seating capacity of about 3,000 — to be completed in July of 2021 on the campus of Wayne State, near the intersection of Warren and Trumbull avenues in Detroit. “Anytime your athletic program can be associated directly with a professional team, there’s no downside to it,” Fournier said. “Can you imagine showing a recruit around the facility and say, ‘Oh, by the way, we have a partnership with the Detroit Pistons of the NBA.’ How does that hurt your recruiting? Those are the kind of intangibles that separate you from other institutions.” The projected cost for the arena is $25 million. “The basic formula is we’re putting the money upfront, and then they’re paying us back money over a number of years to cover that cost,” Fournier said of the lease agreement with the Pistons.
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First look at Wayne State’s master plan

Midtown and Detroit are changing fast. Wayne State University is trying to keep up. In August 2018, to help better position itself for these changes, the university began the creation of a new master plan that will shape the future look and function of its campus. It hired the planning firm DumontJanks, which has extensive experience working with universities, to be the lead consultant on the project. The firm and university officials have given a series of public presentations over the last few months. The general shape of the plan is becoming clear, but there’s still many more details yet to be released. The plan itself is not prescriptive—there’s no timeline and the recommendations are largely form-based that can be implemented as resources become available. “This is a framework that will allow us to have flexibility and includes a lot of data so we can understand impacts,” said Ashley Flintoff, director of planning and space management for Wayne State. “We’ll soon have a tool to make better, informed decisions.” Several developments on the campus are already underway and were decided on prior to this planning effort, such as the massive Gateway Performance Complex, relocation of the Mackenzie House, and a new basketball arena built in partnership with the Detroit Pistons. However these plans roll out over the next months and years, it’s clear Wayne State will be in a much better position to grow and adapt alongside the city.
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'Game-changer': Wayne State to build $25M athletic facility, house Pistons' G-League team

Built in 1965, the Matthaei Center has been the hub of Wayne State's athletic campus in midtown Detroit. Intramural and club sports, the swimming facility and almost every other sport were housed in the same outdated facility.  The upgrade is coming.  With an 8-0 vote, the school's Board of Governors unanimously approved a plan Wednesday to build a new $25-million on-campus athletic facility that will house its men's and women's basketball teams. In addition, the Pistons announced that the new facility will be home to their affiliate in the Gatorade League.  The new 70,000-square-foot facility — seating 3,000 — will be near the corner of Warren and Trumbull, where an intramural field
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Pistons say Detroit G League affiliate beneficial all-around

The NBA G League is coming to Detroit. The Detroit Pistons announced plans Wednesday to bring a developmental team to the city as part of a multi-faceted partnership with Wayne State University. The G League team will play in the arena Wayne State is planning to build for its men’s and women’s team. A specific timeline has not been determined, but the $25 million facility, with a capacity of 3,000, is scheduled to be compete in time for the 2021-22 season. The Pistons and their current G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, recently extended their operating agreement through the 2020-21 season. Discussions with G League officials continue, regarding whether the new team will be part of an expansion or whether the Drive will relocate. “We continue to invest in the success of our franchise and the success of our community,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. “Bringing a G League team to Detroit delivers on both fronts. It will give our players and coaches the best tools available to maximize performance, and it will add more fuel to the revitalization underway in Midtown and throughout Detroit.”
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Historic David Mackenzie house begins move on Wayne State campus

After nearly 125 years on Cass Avenue, Wayne State University’s historic David Mackenzie house began its move to a new location. Crews worked for hours Monday morning ensuring that the house at 4735 Cass was ready for the move. Around 10 a.m. the house, sitting on steel beams atop 12 sets of wheels, began to creep inch by inch toward its new location across the lot at Second and Forest. “You only get one chance to do this,” said Ryan Miller, project manager for Wayne State University. The Queen Anne-style home was built in 1895 and was the home to David Mackenzie, Wayne State’s founder. The university has entrusted the move to New York-based International Chimney, the same firm that helped move the Gem Theatre in 1997. Is there some nervousness involved in the move? “Sure,” Miller said. “Anytime you’re moving a structure of historical designation. But these are professional movers. They do this all over the country. If there’s anyone to do it, it’s these guys.”