Cowles House - Addition 3 and Site Renovations

Cowles House

Project Information


  • Construction


  • Cowles House was originally constructed in 1857 and has been the subject of periodic renovations. It was named the official residence of the President in 1941.
  • The facility hosts more than 150 events annually and serves as a guesthouse for dignitaries visiting the University. Immediately previous MSU presidents have not used the facility as a residence, but the incoming president is expected to do so after the renovations are complete.
  • The configuration of Cowles House does not provide adequate space to properly support events, causing public areas to be used for staging and storage.
  • Further, the building has limited accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • The upstairs residential space is essentially unchanged since renovations in 1950. The residential space is not separated from the events downstairs in a manner that allows that space to function as an independent apartment.


  • Renovations and an addition to the first floor area to provide appropriate kitchen staging and storage areas.
  • Demolition and reconstruction of the adjoining garage necessary to provide additional service space.
  • Modification and reconstruction of portions of the first floor public areas to increase event seating capacity and improve functionality.
  • Providing accessibility to the first floor public areas including accessible restrooms.
  • Modification of the outdoor area to provide terraces, accessibility and improved landscape.
  • Upgrade of the interior finishes and furniture to reflect and integrate the building's mid-century design, in particular in the public reception areas.
  • Upgrade of the living/residential space on the second floor to provide appropriate accommodations for dignitaries and other guests.
  • Construction of kitchen and staff spaces that more efficiently handle event volume and capacity.


  • $6 million including a $600,000 contingency
  • The project will be funded by a combination of gifts, general fund - Reserve Barrier-Free Access, Jenison Trust, Infrastructure Reserve and/or financing with debt repayment from the sources noted.


  • Construction start: May 2019
  • Ready for occupancy: Summer 2020

Construction Junction progress update

Capital project number

  • CP17186


Chris Barnes
Project Manager (517) 355-1628