AKA: University of Michigan (U-M), Ann Arbor, Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Dworsky, Daniel L., FAIA, and Associates (firm); Daniel Leonard Dworsky (architect)

Dates: constructed 1966-1967

333 East Stadium Boulevard
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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Building History

Los Angeles architect Daniel Dworsky (1927-2022) acted as Associated Architect with Kenneth C. Black Associates, Incorporated, of Lansing, MI, on the design of the University of Michigan's Crisler Arena. It was named for Herbert O. "Fritz" Crisler (1899-1982), head football coach at the University of Michigan between 1938 and 1947, where he won over 80% of his games and amassed a record 71 wins, 16 losses and 3 ties. (Previously, Crisler had been the Head Coach at the University of Minnesota [1930-1931] and Princeton University [1932-1937].) Dworsky attended the University of Michigan and was a star linebacker on Crisler's undefeated 1947 football team. Crisler became the U of M's Athletic Director in 1948, hiring his replacement, Bennie Oosterbaan (1906-1990), who had great success until about 1951. WIth Osterbaan at the helm, Dworsky's 1948 U of M team went 9-0 and won the national championship.

Success of the University of Michigan's men's basketball team during the mid-1960s, during the tenure of player Cazzie Russell (born 06/07/1944) prompted university officials to build a new, larger venue for it. Russell was the first U-M basketball player to have his jersey retired in 1993, with a ceremonial banner raised to the rafters of the arena's south end. Since that time, four other players have received this honor.

According to a U-M website, Dworsky had the responsibility for the "...design, preliminary drawings and selection of materials" for the Crisler Arena. The building cost approximately $7.2 million and originally seated 13,684. (See University of Michigan.edu, "Crisler Center," accessed 01/28/2022.) The men's basketball team played its first contest in the arena against the University of Kentucky on 12/02/1967, altough the formal dedication did not occur until 02/27/1968. Thereafter, the U-M women's intercollegiate basketball team had its first game in the arena on 02/04/1974 against Western Michigan University. The U-M Gymnastics and Wrestling teams also have utilized the facility.

Building Notes

Kenneth Chapman Black (1901-1991) founded Kenneth C. Black Associates, Incorporated, in either 1957 or 1958. His firm designed many notable Modern buildings in the southern Michigan including the the Detroit Race Course Club House (1950). Lansing City Hall and Police Building (c. 1957), and Cyclotron Building, Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing (c. 1960) and Lansing Central Public Library, Lansing, MI, (1964). Houses included the C. Donald and Betty Price House in Lansing.

Kenneth C. Black had a long history living and working in Lansing. He was a student there between 1921 and 1925, at least, and worked as a draftsman for his father Lee Black (1877–1960), who operated a solo architectural practice in Lansing, during 1927. (See Chilson and McKinley's Lansing City Directory, 1921, p. 25, McKinley-Reynolds Company Lansing, Michigan, City Directory, 1925, p. 213 and McKinley-Reynolds Company Lansing, Michigan, City Directory, 1927, p. 231.) Kenneth Black did not appear in Lansing's city directory in 1928 or 1929, suggesting, perhaps, that he was working for another firm elsewhere or was working on a educational degree. He established a partnership with Lee Black, "Lee and Kenneth C. Black Architects," that operated between 1930 and 1956, at least. (See Lansing, Michigan, City Directory, 1930, p. 115 and Lansing, Michigan, City Directory, 1956, p. 136.)

In 1959, Kenneth C. Black Associates, Incorporated, operated at 112 East Allegan Street in Lansing. (See Lansing, Michigan, City Directory, 1959, p. 116.)


Since its opening in 1967, various changes have occurred to the Crisler Arena. Sports video production facilities were added to the arena in 1998, and the Crisler Press Lounge, a space for team banquets, press events and other special occasions, also opened at this time. Three years later, the university intalled new student bleacher seating for the Maize Rage section on the east side of the arena's space. To raise added revenue, premium courtside seating was included at this time, and men's locker rooms were upgraded. The following year, 2002, women's locker rooms were also greatly expanded in size and enhanced visually.

During 2003 and 2004, the U-M Athletic Department remodeled the arena's weight room, and enlarged the facility's sports medicine spaces.

In 2005, adjacent to Crisler Center, the 11,400-square-foot Junge Family Champions Center was built on land between the arena and stadium. It contained team meeting spaces, dining space, media rooms, a lounge, kitchen and restrooms, and served as a focal point for U-M athletic recruiting events. On the roof of the new center, the Mortenson Plaza was constructed that provided space for football tailgating and special events.

The Crisler Arena underwent wholesale changes during 2010 and 2011, the work broken into two construction phases. Phase I, approved by the U-M Regents in 10/2009, would cost $20 million. According to a U-M website: "[Phase I] addressed high priority infrastructure needs such as repairs to the roof, electrical, plumbing and air handling systems. Lower bowl seats were also replaced, with the expansion of seating for people with disabilities, addition of hand rails and other code-related issues. High-definition video scoreboards and premium seating areas were also added." (See University of Michigan.edu, "Crisler Center," accessed 01/28/2022.)

Phase II, approved by the regents in 01/2011, "...added approximately 63,000 gross square feet for new fan entrances, additional retail and ticketing areas, as well as a private club space. Athletic resources and gifts funded the $52 million project. The renovation provides improved seating for people with disabilities and expanded and renovated concourses for additional restrooms, concessions and other fan amenities." (See University of Michigan.edu, "Crisler Center," accessed 01/28/2022.) Exterior walls were replaced and the interior concourses enlarged to provide additional space for more concession stands, shops and restrooms.

PCAD id: 2376