Built in 1904, the hydrodynamics lab at the University of Michigan has provided generations of students with unique tools and experiences. The laboratory’s “tow tank” was the first university-affiliated facility of its kind in the United States and is one of only three on university campuses in the United States. In its 112-year history, the lab has launched some of the most significant innovations in naval architecture, including the fuel-saving “bulbous bow” technology that’s used on large cargo vessels.
Today, the hydrodynamics lab is still the largest facility of its kind — used both for teaching and for testing new commercial and military vessel designs. Now, thanks to a substantial renovation, it has been restored to showcase the premier naval architecture school in the United States. Offices and student lab space have been modernized to provide more light, transparency, and collaborative space, and the interior vestibule and corridor has been updated and redesigned with an LED lightwall showcasing the program’s history. Accented by wood and nautical whites, the opposing wall is lined with a series of exhibits highlighting the program and the life of Aaron Friedman, the renovation’s namesake contributor.
Located in West Hall, a historic campus landmark, the renovations preserved some of the core features by maintaining the original brick, windows and wood trim from the corridor into the tow tank.