Construction Completion

campus projects at UWEC, UW-Stout wrap up as students return

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

EXCUSE OUR DUST. After months of construction, UW-Eau Claire’s multimillion dollar project to revamp the entrance to lower campus will soon be complete.
EXCUSE OUR DUST. After months of construction, UW-Eau Claire’s multimillion dollar project to revamp a huge chunk of lower campus will soon be complete.

Summertime means construction time for many a college campus while students are (mostly) away. Here’s an inside look at new campus construction projects at Valley colleges.

UWEC PROJECTS

A two-year, multimillion dollar project to revamp the entrance to the UW-Eau Claire campus should be nearing its conclusion right as students return for the fall semester. By the end of the month, work is expected to be finished on the new archway at the intersection of Garfield and Park avenues. The 14-foot-tall stone-and-steel gateway will serve as something of a “front door” to the campus, greeting visitors as they cross into what is now a pedestrian mall flanked by Zorn Arena and Hibbard Hall. 

The archway, as well as a boulder-bedecked water feature in front of Schofield Hall, which is also to be completed by Aug. 31, were made possible by a $1 million gift from alumnus Jon Stowe and his wife, Megan, of Waukesha. 

Construction began in spring 2017 on the lower campus transformation, which included underground utility work, reconfiguring the end of the footbridge that crosses the Chippewa River, and the removal of a Putnam Hall parking lot to make way for an outdoor classroom. That classroom has been built next to the Putnam Park entrance, and funds from the Stowe and Leary families are being used to enhance it with amphitheater-style seating an other elements.

Next, a new upper campus residence hall, the Suites, will open this month. The $35 million, six-story dorm will house 432 students. The Suites – the first new on-campus dorm to open in nearly 20 years – is north of Karlgaard Towers Hall. 

What’s Karlgaard Towers? It’s the new name of an old campus standby, known to generations of UWEC students (as well as Bon Iver fans) as simply Towers. A couple of years ago, Towers was rechristened in honor of Marilyn and David Karlgaard, who’ve donated more than $6 million to their alma mater. Over the past two academic years, the 53-year-old building has undergone extensive renovation, first to the south tower (aka Marilyn Karlgaard Hall) then the north tower (David Karlgaard Hall). The $36 million in renovations included replacing windows and doors, adding a new entrance, installing air conditioning, replacing plumbing, renovating first-floor and basement areas, expanding bathrooms, upgrading elevators, and much more. By the time you read this, these upgrades should be completed and Karlgaard Towers should be ready to welcome hordes of eager Blugolds.

If you’re a student, staff member, or campus visitor, you’ll likely notice other projects in the works in the near future:

Construction will soon begin on a new two-story, 16,000-square-foot University Welcome Center, which will be on the site previously occupied by several university-owned homes and the current visitors’ kiosk along Roosevelt Avenue. The privately funded building, which is expected to open next year, will house the Admissions Office as well as the Alumni Association and the UWEC Foundation. 

The 2019-21 state budget passed earlier this summer included $109 million for a replacement to Phillips Science Hall. (The new Science and Health Sciences Building is expected to cost an estimated $256 million over the course to two state budget cycles.)

Governors Hall, an upper campus dorm built in 1962, is slated for a $19 million renovation project beginning next year. The university says Governors will be closed to students for the 2020-21 academic year.

UW-STOUT PROJECTS

At UW-Stout in Menomonie, some newly renovated buildings will greet students when they move back to campus Sept. 1 for the start of the school year:

Among the projects is the complete renovation of North Hall, a residence hall that houses about 370 students. According to UW-Stout, “The $21.7 million project, funded with student fees, includes all new student rooms, bathrooms, common areas, entries, and infrastructure.” Finishing touches on the building will be complete by the end of August.

Work will also be wrapping up on a $7.6 million renovation to the first floor of Merle Price Commons, which sits just across from North Hall. The project involves a renovated patio on the building’s west side, new windows, expanded entryways, and refurbished offices for the Qube, the campus LGBTQ center. 

Construction will continue on historic Bowman Hall, whose imposing brick clock tower is a campus landmark. Mortar between exterior bricks, as well as windows and stones, have been painstakingly replaced as part of the $9 million effort. The last steps will involve replacing structural steel in the clock tower as well as the tower’s copper roof, as well as the restoration of a quill weathervane, the university said. This work is expected to continue this fall and likely next spring. The bells in the tower, which have been mostly silenced since May, will likely resume their regular quarter-hour chiming in October.