Feb. 25, 2019
LIVONIA, MICH. - Bitter cold couldn't stop supporters of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives from attending the final beam raising and topping off ceremony on Thursday, February 20. The sun was shining brightly, however, over the shell of the building that is currently under construction on the southwest corner of Madonna University’s Livonia campus. Nearly 150 alumni, faculty, staff, and benefactors joined Madonna University President Michael Grandillo, Ph.D., and the Felician Sisters of North America, for this milestone celebration of the $12 million, 30,000-square-foot building, slated to open spring 2021.
Feb. 21, 2020
Students, staff, faculty, members of the Felician Sisters community, the architectural/construction team, Livonia community members, and other supporters of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North American Heritage Center and Archives celebrated the final beam being lifted into place on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.
February 19, 2020
With the walls of the lower level of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North American Heritage Center and Archives complete, work will soon begin on the floors of the ground level.
All of the walls have been poured for the lower level — the area that will house the Felician Sisters’ archives — which is now completely enclosed. Crews are working on the concrete block walls for the first floor and the stairwells, and steel-reinforced flooring deck is in place for most of the first floor.
Crews will pour concrete for the ground floor first, over the metal pan decking that crews are starting to put into place. After the ground floor concrete is poured, crews will move to the lower level using a concrete pumping truck. Madonna University Construction Manager Michael Edgar explained that this lets work continue above the lower level more efficiently so they can work underground and above ground at the same time, saving time and money.
“Our construction crew, J.S. Vig Construction, has been diligent in making sure we are making the most of our time and monetary resources,” Edgar said. “With the mild winter we’ve had so far, we are making good progress with the construction process.”
As the concrete slab is poured in the lower level, an extra layer of waterproofing will be fit between the concrete slab and the exterior wall to ensure the lower level stays watertight. This is one of many layers of waterproofing redundancy in the lower level, to ensure the Felician Sisters’ archives are preserved for generations to come, Edgar explained.
After the concrete work is finished, crews can begin structural masonry and electrical work, which will allow temporary lighting to be installed and work to continue in the lower level.
“We’re looking forward to working throughout the winter on the shell of the building, and moving to interior construction afterward,” Edgar said. “We’re excited to see it take shape.”
January 17, 2020
Foundation work is largely complete for the lower level of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives as steel beams are put into place to support the floor of the ground level.
“We’ve been fortunate that the weather has been mild,” says Michael Edgar, Madonna University’ construction manager. “It has allowed us to stay close to schedule with the project with few interruptions while completing the underground and foundational work.”
With the steel beams and supports going into place, the main structure of the building is starting to take shape. Crews are building exterior concrete block walls for the northwest portion of the building, which will be the Great Room, to connect with the existing work in the lower level, the future home of the Felician Sisters’ archives, as soon as the concrete floor is completed.
Crews are expected to install a total of 130 tons of structural steel and joists into the building, which is the weight of about 1,300 football players, 65 new cars, or about 22 elephants.
The lower level’s rooms and offices have yet to be built out, but the crushed stone sub-floor is in place along with extensive drainage systems allowing for water-tight protection. Connection points for water, sewer, and electricity are in progress. The lower level concrete floor will be poured and the inset steel floor rails for the high-density archival storage system housing the Felician Sisters North America Archives from 1855 to today will be prepared for installation.
Within the next few weeks, crews will build the lower level’s final 20 feet of foundation wall, which had been left open for heavy machinery to enter and exit the lower level. Then the lower level space will be closed in, and temporary lighting will be installed so indoor work can continue. The building’s foundation should be fully finished shortly after that, with final waterproofing and soil back-filled and compacted around the outer walls. By the end of the project, crews will have moved approximately 20,000 tons of dirt and 3,000 tons of crushed stone.
“The hard rain last week allowed the construction team to test the water drainage and waterproofing systems, and everything worked as expected,” Edgar says. “We’re pleased with the progress of the project and look forward to completing the exterior structure components of the building in the upcoming months. The inside will start taking shape soon after.”
December 17, 2019
The large crane on the Welcome Center construction site is being used to place steel beams on the top of the lower level of the Welcome Center. While the pile of beams may look like pieces of a puzzle, the crew knows exactly where each piece goes. Construction is moving right along.
December 12, 2019
The lower level of the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives is nearly complete, which means steel beams and the first floor will be put into place soon.
As of mid-November, all the lower level walls, except for the east wall, are in place. The east end of the lower level remains open for the heavy equipment to enter and exit the work space. Several methods of waterproofing are being applied to the walls to protect the archives, which will be in the west end of the lower level, to preserve the Felician Sisters' heritage in museum-quality conditions.
After the foundation is finished, the area outside the lower-level walls will be filled in with a foot of dirt at a time, which is compacted; then the process is repeated, using most of the fill dirt saved from the initial excavation. Geothermal wells, now covered with more fill dirt, soon will be piped from the wells into one corner of the lower level. Saving the dirt for reuse and installing geothermal wells are just two ways the Welcome Center project reflects the University’s Franciscan value of reverence for creation.
After the lower level walls have been completed and the dirt backfilled, steel beams will be put into place via cranes. Concrete floors will then be poured for the lower level and for the first floor, and the building really will begin to take shape over the next few months.
October 22, 2019
While most of the work on the new Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives has been occurring underground, the building took a significant step forward in recent weeks with beginning of the concrete pouring within the lower level.
After 18 inches of limestone was spread over the ground where the lower level floor will be, the concrete foundations were poured. About 100 feet of foundation concrete has been poured every couple of days. Now that the foundations are completed, the underfloor drainage tiles will be installed, wall forms will be erected, and exterior walls poured (currently in progress). Walls are expected to be under construction through October/early November.
The floor is being poured in two stages, because floor rails will be inlaid to accommodate the extensive archive filing system planned for the space. The Felician Sisters were founded in 1855, so there are nearly 165 years of newspaper clippings, records, and other memorabilia that will be kept in the lower-level Heritage Center and Archives.
Elsewhere on the construction site, work is completed on the geothermal wells, which reach 14 stories below ground (photo above right). The displaced dirt and mud has been saved to reuse during the construction process, saving both money and resources.
In the next few weeks, crews will bring temporary electric power to the site via an underground conduit from the Administration Building. The final details also are being ironed out for gas and sewer lines. Site lighting will be put into place soon, and the piles of dirt are expected to be moved out before winter, as long as the weather cooperates.
September 17, 2019
What is now gravel will be the main floor where the Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives will be located, and where the Welcome Center Great Room for University events will be housed. The large hole next to it is the lower level where the University archives will be kept. A retention pond is south of the building closest to Schoolcraft Road.
The crew from Midwest GeoThermal last week bored the first dozen of 36 geothermal wells for a geothermal heating system. Each well is 460 feet deep (the length of one and a half football fields). Geothermal heat pumps will use the ground as a heat exchanger via a closed-loop water circuit that runs through 6.5 miles of tubing underground and into the building.
This system will save on heating and cooling costs, and reduce the use of fossil fuels.
The project is on schedule to have the shell and roof up by mid- to late- December so that construction inside can continue through the winter months.
August 14, 2019
The first few months of construction on the Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives are in the books, and the Franciscan value of “reverence for creation” is evident around the construction site. Site preparation began shortly after the groundbreaking ceremony in May.
What was formerly part of the parking lot and green space, is now many large piles of approximately 6,000 cubic yards of topsoil and about 3,000 cubic yards of pulverized asphalt. These materials are being stored for re-use as the project progresses. This process is more environmentally-friendly than using all-new materials and it’s also more cost-effective.
Within the next week or so, crews are anticipating installing a geothermal heating system, which includes 33 wells to be drilled about 400 feet into the ground. Geothermal heat pumps use the ground as a heat exchanger via a closed-loop water circuit. Because the earth is a constant 55-70 degrees Fahrenheit, this system saves on heating and cooling costs, and reduces the use of fossil fuels.
Recently, crews have been busy digging the retention pond, at the southwest part of the site closest to Schoolcraft Road, and have installed the drainage system for the parking lot. They have dug out the lower level of the new building, are finishing up water tap connection work, and next week will lay drain tile under the lower level floor before pouring the lower level concrete floor. They are working toward a goal of having the shell of the building complete before the weather changes, so that construction can continue through the winter.
May 19, 2019
LIVONIA, MICH. - More than 100 alumni, faculty, staff, and benefactors sloshed through the pouring rain to join Madonna University President Michael Grandillo, the Felician Sisters of North America, and the Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, as they broke ground to begin construction of a $9 million, 28,000-square-foot Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives.
To celebrate Madonna University’s rich heritage and contributions to the community, Madonna University trustees and administrators have developed plans for a Madonna University Welcome Center and Felician Sisters of North America Heritage Center and Archives that will:
Madonna University will utilize the Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center and its Great Room for campus visits, art exhibitions, banquets, and large gatherings, which will provide students, faculty, and staff with opportunities to build relationships with members of the diverse southeast Michigan communities in which they live, work, worship, and play.
The Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center building design is reflective of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Central Italy. It will maintain the Basilica’s sanctuary feeling with an open interior, meandering paths, special repetition of columns, and a center for gathering, reflection and learning.
The Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center will include space for the Felician Heritage Center, exhibition space, a multipurpose space, administrative offices, archives, art gallery, cafe, gardens, and more.
The Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center will blend the past, present, and future, and will serve as a University resource for important work. The success of this campaign will result in a myriad of uses and benefits to a growing and enduring University.
The Welcome Center and Felician Sisters Heritage Center will integrate the University's mission and core values, serve as an inviting first point of contact for future students, expand the University's involvement in the community, and add needed space for student fellowship and classwork.