Pray-Harrold, the largest and busiest classroom building on the Eastern Michigan University campus, has reopened to students and faculty after nearly a year and a half of major renovations.

A formal reopening ceremony will be held in the new, second-floor student commons area at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20.

That’s the most dramatic aspect of the project occurred on that second floor, where a new, see-through student commons area occupies the middle area of the building. The commons is encased in glass, with much improved comfort and sightlines.

The university is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for the building.

The new design includes vine walls outside the two main entrances, on the building’s southeast and southwest sides. The vines, which grow on attached metal scaffolding, will help regulate heating and cooling levels by absorbing the rays of the sun rather than the building’s walls.

Other green features include recycled ceiling tiles, carpeting with recycled content, bamboo doors, low-flow plumbing fixtures and a bamboo ceiling in the new glass-enclosed student commons area.

All 60 classrooms were redone, and three of the four auditoriums were converted from movie theater-style seating to seminar-style designs. Other features include extensive infrastructure and HVAC improvements, improved technology capability and improved ADA access.

Pray-Harrold opened in 1969, and was then the largest classroom building in Michigan. The $42 million renovation project is a collaboration between the state of Michigan, which contributed $31.5 million in capital outlay funds, and EMU, which is contributing $10.5 million.

The renovation involved a complete move-out from Pray-Harrold, with faculty and staff occupying many new or temporary offices in a broad campus collaborative effort called “Swing Space.” Moving completely out of the building, as opposed to a phased construction plan, saved more than $3 million in construction costs.


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