UM-Flint's new science building ranks as downtown Flint's largest-ever development

FLINT, Michigan — The new science building now under construction on the campus of the University of Michigan-Flint will be one of the largest ever investments in downtown Flint.

The $39 million expansion to the Murchie Science Building comes on the heels of a 58 percent increase in undergraduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math at UM-Flint and a 350 percent  increase in graduate-level studies. 

The project is huge — even as measured against other recent and ongoing developments in downtown Flint. It comes in bigger than the $30 million historic renovation of the Durant, double the size of the $19 million residential development at the former YWCA site, and just nudges out the $37.9 million hotel construction at the former Genesee Bank building. 

Looking just at the world of academia, the investment still carries significance, coming in above the $32 million construction of Powers Catholic High School on Flint’s westside and the ongoing $35 million project to build a new charter school on the campus of the Flint Cultural Center.

The 65,000-square-foot building — which technically is an expansion of the already existing Murchie Science Building —  is part of a wave of growth at UM-Flint in recent years, which also included the purchase of a portion of the former Citizens Bank building on South Saginaw Street and taking over ownership of the Riverfront Conference Center and residence hall. 

“This transformative project is another example of UM-Flint responding to the vision set forth by founders including Charles Stewart Mott to be the driving force for academic excellence, leadership, and service in Flint and the region,” Chancellor Susan E. Borrego said at the groundbreaking ceremony earlier this month.

It is the first new construction on UM-Flint's campus since the addition of the First Street Residence Hall a decade ago at a cost of $21.3 million and the construction of the William S. White Building in 2002 at a cost of $35.9 million.

The project adds a a third “wing” to the Murchie Science Building along Mill Street near Chavez Drive and the university’s Recreation Center. Each wing is connected and operates quasi-separately from each of the other sections. Plans for the new portion of the building include expansive laboratory space.
“Today is the realization of years of planning based on the incredible growth in demand for STEM academic offerings,” said Susan Gano-Phillips, dean of UM-Flint’s College of Arts and Sciences.  “Once completed this addition will provide new state-of-the-art architecture and interactive learning spaces essential to our high-quality programs and ensure that UM-Flint facilities remain on the cutting-edge in the fields of STEM.”
The project is funded in party by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which awarded a $7.5 million grant. Nearly $30 million of the project is funded through an appropriation from the state of Michigan’s capital outlay budget.
Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2021 and is expected to provide an average of 100 on-site construction jobs, according to UM-Flint.

Read more articles by Marjory Raymer.