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Goodspeed Family Pier is newest campus link to lake

July 9, 2013 By Kate Dixon

Photo: closeup of pier

The Goodspeed Family Pier will link the future Alumni Park, a gift of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, with Lake Mendota.


The Wisconsin Alumni Association is inviting the Madison community to visit the newest shoreline feature on Lake Mendota, the Goodspeed Family Pier.

The new pier, located at Lake Street adjacent to the Below Alumni Center, is the first phase in the creation of Alumni Park, a gift to the campus from the association in honor of its 150th anniversary.

WAA is inviting the public — watercrafters and landlubbers alike — to visit from 5-7 p.m. Friday, July 12, when it holds a public grand opening with information about the project and treats.

“The UW now has a pier worthy of this great institution, and we all have a new gateway to connect the university with Lake Mendota,” says WAA’s president and CEO Paula Bonner. “This pier is a gift to the whole campus community, and generations of alumni to come will make their Badger memories here.”

Photo: people sitting along pier

The pier offers a new campus gathering spot for people to appreciate scenic Lake Mendota.

Photo: Paul McCann

The pier is uniquely designed to provide docking access for boats and paddlecraft, such as canoes and kayaks.

The pier will be the lakeside entry to the future Alumni Park, a planned green space along the shore of Lake Mendota at the east end of the UW–Madison campus being designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

The new pier is named for the family of alumni Mike Shannon (1980) and Mary Sue Goodspeed Shannon (1981), whose gift toward the pier expresses their special appreciation and connection to this area of campus.

More than 250 alumni and friends celebrated the public opening of the pier at a lakeside ribbon-cutting event on June 27. More than 500 supporters, to date, have provided $6.5 million toward the completion of Alumni Park.

“This pier will be a great addition to the always-memorable experience of enjoying this scenic lakeshore that we are so fortunate to have in the heart of our campus,” says incoming Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “It’s one of the reasons people say Wisconsin has one of the most beautiful college campuses in the nation, and everything we do to enhance it adds to the UW’s unique charm.”

“This pier will be a great addition to the always-memorable experience of enjoying this scenic lakeshore that we are so fortunate to have in the heart of our campus.”

Rebecca Blank

The pier will be open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. Docking will be free of charge throughout the welcome month of July. Docking rates of $3 per hour for boats, and $1.50 per hour for paddlecraft, with a two-hour limit, will apply after August 15. Proceeds from docking support the Wisconsin Alumni Association and pier operations.

For the safety of all lake users, swimming is not permitted from or near the pier. Details about pier access and Alumni Park are available on the Alumni Park Web page.

Slated to open in 2015, Alumni Park will be a vibrant promenade that connects UW’s most popular gathering places — the shore of Lake Mendota and Library Mall — in the corridor that runs between the Red Gym and the Memorial Union, from Lake Mendota to Langdon Street.

Alumni Park will tell the story of how the contributions, discoveries and personalities of the university and its alumni have made an impact across the state and around the world.

Video from dedication of the Goodspeed Family Pier

Fun facts and numbers about Goodspeed Family Pier

If you’re standing on the Goodspeed Family Pier and look down, you’ll see many, many planks of massaranduba.

Known taxonomically as Manilkara bidentata, the massaranduba is a tree native to Central and South America. Its sap is used to make high-quality golf balls, which is neither here nor there, but its reddish wood is extremely hard and dense. (It’s also sometimes called bulletwood.) In constructing the pier, WAA’s contractor chose massaranduba for its beauty and durability, and because it’s environmentally friendly. (It’s Forest Stewardship Council certified.)

20: number of boats, canoes, and kayaks that can tie up at the pier at once. The east-west floating dock can accommodate 12 boats; the north-south canoe and kayak slip can hold 8 craft.

21: number of pilings that support the permanent pier. Each is 12.75 inches in diameter and is driven at least 23 feet into the lake.

787: linear feet of shoreline that were restored during this project

3,148: linear feet of stone needed to make the facing for that shoreline

2,011: linear feet of stone salvaged from the previous shoreline for reuse (some 461 tons of stone were too damaged to reuse)

297: new limestone blocks needed for the shoreline (They were quarried at Halquist Stone in Sussex, Wisconsin)

350: cubic yards of concrete poured as foundation for the new shoreline