Consisting of approximately 3,200 acres and interspersed with residential neighborhoods, the university comprises four campuses spread across Ann Arbor: the original Central Campus, North Campus, South Campus, and Medical Campus. Established in Detroit (then the capital of the Territory of Michigan) as the University of Michigania in 1817, the university relocated to a 40-acre square site in Ann Arbor in 1837. Architect Alexander Jackson Davis was hired to create a plan for the campus; he submitted a traditional plan that called for a row of street-facing Classical brick buildings. From 1860 to 1900 the campus developed to include additional facilities that faced outward from a central yard. Architect Henry Ives Cobb created a plan in 1890 that focused attention on the central open space. Today, the Central Campus contains a central green with a mall built on a north-south axis, and university buildings sited along its perimeter.
Planning for the South Campus began during the 1890s. It contains athletic facilities, including a golf course designed by architect Alister MacKenzie in the late 1920s. Land for the North Campus was purchased in 1950, and architect Eero Saarinen was commissioned to provide a master plan for its development in 1952. Today the North Campus features Wave Field (1995) by Maya Lin and The Grove, which contains the memorial Lurie Tower (1996) a 60-bell carillon designed by Charles Moore and Arthur Anderson.
Local landscape architects and planners, Johnson, Johnson and Roy executed planning studies for a new Medical Center (1961), a North Campus update (1984), Central Campus updates (1963, and 1987), and a South Campus update (1991). In 1997 Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA) undertook a study of general master planning issues for all four campuses. The University of Michigan Central Campus Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.