Leaf Me Be: Green Study Spaces at Michigan

As we approach the end of a busy Winter Term, it’s essential to have study spaces that will give us the energy and motivation to finish the semester strong. Here is a list of 11 nature-centered study spaces that will certainly help you feel like a blooming plant as you take up the sun and conquer your schoolwork, exams, meetings, etc.


With a hidden entrance on the side of the UMMA, this cafe is certainly a gem you won’t want to miss. Offering affordable coffee, pastries, and fantastic music, this study spot is certainly somewhere you can spend an extended amount of time in. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide its customers with a plethora of natural light that will keep you feeling good through your study session. This space is normally pretty busy and relatively loud, but there are definitely still moments of peace throughout the day. I recommend the blueberry muffin, the chai tea latte, and sitting somewhere near the middle back windows.

Dana Building

Home of the School for Environment and Sustainability, the Dana building is airy, open, and the perfect place to station yourself for a few hours. The 4th floor has an atrium with copious amounts of natural light flooding in, as well as floors made from recycled materials that muffle the noise of other students. The space gives you a cozy, warm feeling for watching your lectures.

The 1st floor is almost as cozy, with exposed brick and raw wood table tops. This area is a little more loud, especially at times where classes are ending, but you can usually find me in this space.

Literature, Science and the Arts Building

Home of the Opportunity Hub and some VERY cheap Starbucks chai, the LSA building is certainly one of my go-tos. The two levels of seating allow you to choose your noise level and your brightness level, all while maintaining an airy space for you to feel comfortable while you grind out your work. The open space pictured here is usually pretty quiet, but moving towards the Mason Hall doors, you can find tables that are more chat-friendly. You can reserve spaces here in advance, but it is also usually possible to walk in and easily find a table. Bring your own coffee cup and take advantage of the $2 Starbucks in the cafe near the back!


East Hall

Home of the Department of Mathematics and Psychology, East Hall is truly another hidden gem that most people aren’t familiar with. The chairs aren’t the comfiest, but this space is usually very quiet and relatively full. On a sunny day, the natural sunlight shining in the two-story floor to ceiling windows is unmatched. This building provides a fantastic atmosphere to study for long periods of time.

Chem Building

One of my favorite underrated buildings, the Chem Building has a fantastic open atrium that provides anyone with a sunbath fit for royalty. Usually very quiet, this area is a place where most students feel comfortable disappearing into their work and really grinding out those important assignments. Most of the seating is wooden benches on the basement level, but students can also be seen lining the borders of the ground floor, next to the science learning center.

Social Work

The School of Social Work has always been one of my favorite atrium spaces, along with window spaces if there is no seating. With unique chairs and various spaces that provide you with a new energy, I have never grown tired of working here. This area is usually relatively quiet, despite the moments here and there when students are exiting their classes. The window seats pictured to the left are also very lovely on a sunny day! I recommend grabbing your favorite drink from M36 then setting up here when you need some sun.


The Union Sweetwaters atrium is probably one of the better-known study spaces on campus. This area varies in loudness during the day, depending on the time and how busy Sweetwaters is. If you like the sound of coffee being made and the sunshine on your face in an airy, open setting, this is certainly the place for you. Be warned, as it is usually very hard to snag a spot here. But getting here early is definitely worth it, and I know I’ve spent many hours here.

Central Campus Classroom Building (CCCB)

If you’ve spoken to me about this building, it’s likely I’ve told you my theory that they pump pure oxygen into this building. I have never smelled a building so clean, and I have never been so rejuvenated as when I step into this building. The CCCB is a breath of fresh air next to the NUB (literally) and has been newly housing many large-scale lectures. There are floor to ceiling windows lining the walls and vending machines in the basement. Everything here is new and you can tell, so if you like that new car smell, this is certainly the place for you.

Museum of Natural History

Another one of the better-known nature-centered study spaces on campus is the benches outside the Museum of Natural History. With ample space to spread your things, there is usually always a place to sit on these benches. Be warned, as the absence of the sun can change the temperature of this space almost immediately. The people-watching can get a little loud at times, but is mostly entertaining when you need a study break.

Window Seats


The window seats at the league are rarely free, but the stained glass windows allow you to live out your castle fantasy without venturing into the law library. Maizie’s Cafe is just a few steps away and is very affordable, so this space was my go-to for about a year. Despite the relatively loud conversation noise, I found I really enjoyed the ambiance of coffee sounds, dishes, and chairs when I was studying here. This area is a little more closed off than the main area of the League, which provides students with a cozier, warmer, and more secluded feel from the busiest areas of this building. I recommend the oat milk cold brew, and the $10 lunch specials!

Shapiro Undergraduate Library (UGLI)

In my opinion, the UGLI is quite underrated. When you take time to make sure that you get there early to secure a spot, there are some lovely places to study there. My personal favorite is the second floor tables, by the window early in the morning. This picture was taken on a rainy day, but feeling the sun’s rays on your skin from these windows is absolutely unmatched. There are few seats like this, but setting out to get them is definitely worth your time. The second floor is a little louder than I prefer, but there are small corners surrounding the higher floors with windows that allow you to bask in the sun just the same.

In the end, it’s important to find study spaces that you feel comfortable in and that you feel facilitates your best work. I find that these 11 spaces with ample sunlight, a range of loudness and availability, along with study snacks have suited me the best. Studying resilience is so difficult, especially when all we want to do is be outside. However, I’m hoping these spaces will provide you with the sunlight and energy you need. Comment any spaces you think we might have missed and get out there and finish strong!

5 thoughts on “Leaf Me Be: Green Study Spaces at Michigan”

  1. I don’t leave the studio too often as a Landscape Architecture student, but this is giving me a bit of wanderlust. Thanks!

  2. As a 1st year masters student who has spent 5 years of his life in Ann Arbor, this article was very insightful! The stunning architecture of UofM never ceases to amaze me!

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