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Human Ecology to break ground on new building

April 27, 2010

University Preschool children in hardhats will assist at the School of Human Ecology groundbreaking at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 30, at 1300 Linden Drive.

University of Wisconsin–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, Gov. Jim Doyle, and School of Human Ecology Dean Robin A. Douthitt will be on the podium, along with lead gift donors Nancy Johnson Nicholas and her husband Albert “Ab” Nicholas.

The school will break ground on a construction project to renovate the Human Ecology Building and expand it to the west. The new, larger facility will extend across land previously occupied by offices of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the Preschool Laboratory’s on-campus site.

The expanded facility will bring together all human ecology programs-including the Preschool Laboratory, Design Gallery, Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, and five other academic and research centers-under one roof. It will encompass areas for student organizations, a café, and many spaces to gather informally. Underground parking will offer easy, safe access to preschool parents and visitors.

The $52-million project is currently tracking at a LEED gold level for energy and environmental design. It is planned for completion in the spring of 2012.

Human ecology alumna Nancy Johnson Nicholas and her husband Albert “Ab” Nicholas provided a lead gift of $8 million in 2004. Other significant gifts came from Elliot and Frances Lehman and Kohl’s Department Stores. Kohl’s provided $3 million to establish the Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence within the expanded and renovated Human Ecology Building.

Following the groundbreaking, a celebration reception begins at 5 p.m. in the atrium of the Mechanical Engineering Building, 1513 University Ave. The school’s board of visitors, alumni, students, donors and friends will celebrate this milestone with live music by Brisas and special guests including design professor Roberto Rengel. This is a free, public reception. For registration or questions, please email