QEA transformed two floors of underutilized space in one of the University of Michigan’s iconic buildings into an appealing environment.

The College of Literature, Science & Arts’ Department of Astronomy asked QEA to address the challenges of low headroom, dark and confining interior spaces, and mechanical system noise and vibration as part of the renovation. QEA responded to the challenge by designing a new, energy-efficient mechanical system engineered for excellent acoustics, bringing more daylight farther into the building, and reconfiguring the fourth floor to create open and light-filled spaces.


  • Completed in 1903, North wing expansion in 1910
  • Originally designed by George Mason and Albert Kahn
  • Project area: 21,500 sf

A Sense of Space

Light was a key element in providing comfortable, functional space for the faculty and staff. Glass doors and transoms let daylight from perimeter offices into the corridors, using a frosted glass to maintain visual privacy. Open-plan and shared offices for graduate students and post-doctoral staff create a sense of greater volume and access to natural light. The interior and lighting designs, inspired by a stellar spectrograph, lends a distinctive identity to the space for the Department of Astronomy.