Ogg Hall reaches end of the line
In a few days, Nick Wiersum will pack up his belongings and leave Ogg Hall, his first home away from home.
Wiersum is among the last of tens of thousands of students to live in the two-tower, 13-story residence hall, which will be demolished to make way for green space along the East Campus Mall.
“I recall that the first time I stepped through the door to my room and started unpacking my life into my new 10-foot-by-15-foot habitat, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was finally on my own, free to do what I wanted, when I wanted,” Wiersum says. “Ogg wasn’t just a dorm, but my newly acquired sanctuary of independence.”
The 1,000-bed residence hall opened its doors in 1965 and was the last major residence hall project to open on campus until last year, when Newell J. Smith Hall opened on North Park Street.
An artist’s rendering of the new Ogg Hall, set to open in August 2007.
The 425-bed Smith Hall, and the new 600-bed residence hall at Park and Dayton streets — which will retain the Ogg Hall name — were built to replace the outdated structure that has been a fixture of the campus skyline.
The new Ogg Hall will open to residents in August and will feature a cluster-style floor plan, with bathrooms shared by no more than eight residents. It will also have kitchenettes on each floor, central air conditioning, classrooms, a music practice room, computer lab space and state-of-the art security systems.
“The new Ogg Hall really advances our philosophy that residence hall life is about more than providing a place to live — it’s a way to help students become successful in the classroom and as leaders,” says Paul Evans, director of University Housing.
Evans notes that it would have been too costly to renovate the old residence hall, which was one of the campus buildings constructed quickly in the 1960s to accommodate soaring demand by Baby Boomers for a college education.
“People who lived there will remember the old Ogg Hall fondly, but the new facility offers more comfortable living and learning experiences,” he adds.
The old Ogg Hall will be demolished beginning in August, but it will not be brought down with explosives because of the nearness of Gordon Commons and due to the fact that major utilities run beneath the site.
As the years went by, the aging Ogg Hall acquired its share of critics, but residents remained a close-knit group, dorm-dwellers say.
“Ogg has a reputation around campus for being ‘that’ dorm,” says Jim Handorf, a house fellow in the building’s Wolfe House. “No one ever hears about how great the people are who live here.”
Handorf says he will always remember the energy of the residents and their closeness.
“I would come home at night and see a dozen or so people mingling in our den, talking about life or complaining about classes,” he says. “That is an example of what Ogg was all about to me: community.”
Wiersum, a two-year resident who worked as an educational program coordinator at Ogg, says he will always remember friends, drinking hot chocolate in the Fireside Lounge there and the countless hours spent in the study rooms.
“I have enjoyed my experiences in Ogg immensely and will always carry a piece of this building’s character in my heart,” Wiersum says. “It will definitely be eerie to walk past 716 W. Dayton St. and not have Ogg there anymore.”
For more information about the new Ogg Hall, visit http://www.housing.wisc.edu/ogg.