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Busy summer ahead for construction projects

May 23, 2008 By Dennis Chaptman

The campus’ pace may be slowing with the coming of summer, but the sounds of jackhammers, heavy equipment and busy construction crews show that UW–Madison improvements are going full-steam ahead.

University Square construction project

Construction continues on the University Square building, a public-private project that is scheduled for completion by August 2008. The building will include about 250,000 square feet of space for university, student and health offices, as well as retail space, private underground and ramp parking stalls, and more than 300 privately developed apartments.

Photo: Jeff Miller

"Guided by our campus master plan, we have a full slate of projects across campus that improve learning, research, transportation and the entire campus experience," says Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities.

The largest building boom since the 1960s continues, as outdated facilities are replaced, historic structures are preserved and updated, and major new projects are launched and completed. Here is a summary of some of the work to watch for this coming summer and early fall:


  • Work on the $144 million Interdisciplinary Research Complex adjacent to UW Hospital and Clinics is nearing completion, with move-in expected this summer and an opening in the fall.
  • The retail and housing parts of the University Square redevelopment are expected to open this fall, with the university’s $57 million wing opening in January 2009. The campus portion will house student services including University Health Services, and offices for the registrar, bursar, financial services and a student activity center.
  • The renovation of the Chadbourne Hall should be completed this month.
  • A $17.5 million renovation of Sterling Hall is expected to begin in the fall and be completed by April 2010.
  • A warehouse east of the Kohl Center is currently undergoing an $8.8 million renovation to create instructional labs and studio space for the art program. The project should be finished in December.
  • The $40 million addition to Grainger Hall, designed to house the School of Business’ MBA program and Executive Education programs, will open its doors in September.
  • A $33.4 million expansion and renovation of the Education Building is scheduled to begin in September and be finished by September 2010.
  • A $117 million project that will create a new cross-college biochemistry building begins in the fall. The project will involve demolition of a 1956 wing of the biochemistry complex and construction of an eight-story tower. The original Biochemistry Building, constructed in 1912 and 1937, will be renovated. The adjacent Agricultural Journalism Building will also be renovated and connected to the new tower.
  • Work has already begun on renovating the Washburn Observatory. Financed by $2.5 million in gift funds, the renovation should be complete by May 2009 and will house the Letters and Science Honors Program.
  • Groundbreaking was held this spring for the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the Morgridge Institute for Research, the public-private initiative designed to promote interdisciplinary research. The institute is set to open in late 2010.

Roads, parking and utilities

  • The addition of one and a half new levels — and 117 new parking spaces — to the Lot 36 parking ramp will force closure of the ramp for the month of June. The project should be completed by September.
  • The West Campus Utility Project will continue. By September, officials expect that Observatory Drive — which is being extended to a new signalized intersection at Highland Avenue — will open. The campus’ first roundabout, at Walnut Street and Observatory Drive, is also expected to open at that time, along with a new bridge with bike lanes over Willow Creek. Utility work near the hospital is also expected to be finished, and Highland Avenue will open with new bike lanes and safer intersections.
  • Utility construction along Charter Street will require that traffic be limited to one-way southbound between Linden Drive and University Avenue for two months, beginning this month.
  • The East Campus Utility Project will require the replacement of the road surface on University and Johnson Avenues near the University Square project. The work will decrease traffic lanes on Johnson Avenue from May 30-June 1 and June 6-8, and on University Avenue from June 20-22 and June 27-29.
  • The city of Madison this week began construction on Monroe Street from Regent to Randall streets and the reconstruction of Randall Court. The work is expected to be complete by mid-August. During construction, Monroe will operate as a one-way northeast-bound street and there will be a six-week period in which no traffic will be allowed southbound on Randall between Dayton and Monroe.

Other projects

  • A $700,000 gift-funded, artificial turf practice field for the UW Marching Band will be installed this summer near Lake Mendota, just east of the McClimon Track and Soccer Complex, replacing a grass field where the band currently practices.
  • Demolition work on the A.W. Peterson Building, at the site of the future expansion of the Chazen Museum of Art, has begun with salvage work. Crews are also expected to raze the Food Research Institute on Willow Drive beginning this fall.
  • Demolition of Ogg Hall, which began last year and was stalled by a change in contractors, is expected to resume this summer.
  • Work will begin on constructing earthen berms to better manage runoff from a site near the Class of 1918 Marsh where snow cleared from campus is stored.
  • The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory is constructing a facility just south of the WARF Building. This project is not under campus supervision.