Campus Plan History


To learn more about UWM’s planning history visit the UWM 60th Anniversary Campus Development Display Case located on the second floor of Chapman Hall!

“Master Planning has been an extremely important part of the fiduciary responsibility of the University since the founding of UWM back in 1956. As stewardship of the Master Plan, the Campus Planning Office has been working closely with the campus and its major governing bodies to facilitate and implement long-term planning to improve the UWM campus. This history of collaboration began with the total support of the President of UW-Madison Edwin Broun Fred, the President of the Board of Regents at that time, A. Matt Werner, and our first Chancellor, J. Martin Klotsche, and continues to this day. We have now implemented a number of new buildings that were proposed in the 2010 Master Plan. As we move on to the next phase of development plan studies, we are identifying the projects that will continue to inspire powerful ideas here at UWM.”
-Claude Schuttey, Former Director


Master Plans of UW-Milwaukee
History of a Changing Campus

When the Wisconsin State Legislature established the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1956 as a merger between the Milwaukee State Teachers College and the University of Wisconsin, the site selection process for the new University revolved around the locations of existing Physical Plant services for the two separate schools and a third option – a choice between a foothold in the Central Business District, building a campus within the residential neighborhood on the upper east side, or acquiring land on the County Grounds in Wauwatosa. The particulars of the Kenwood campus, as it would come to be known, provoked doubts over land expansion potential and changing the neighborhood character, but also presented benefits in its access to non-campus housing and proximity to cultural, recreational and employment resources. To a University already intent on catering to commuter students, its easy access by car and public transportation was seen as an asset, and its limited land for parking as a noteworthy constraint.

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Periodically the University has engaged outside firms and its own planning department to plot the course of development and expansion, calling for new schools, new building types and new spaces for students to gather. The selected campus site became the subject of the first Master Plans, in the form of two reports, a Zone Plan and a Sketch Plan, prepared by planning faculty in 1960; University planners expanded upon ideas from the 1960 report in a 1965 follow-up plan. In 1972, the firm Caudhill Rowlett Scott prepared a Campus Planning Workbook and Phase I of a plan to re-establish UWM’s mission:

“Is UWM reaching all the students implied by its urban mission? If not how can the students be more effectively served? Who should serve them? How will the answers to the above questions affect student enrollment and composition? …Will the urban mission and expanded operational base affect curriculum and teaching methods in ways not reflected in the current program and space projections? Will the existing academic organization be altered to help implement new teaching methods, different management techniques, and more effective interaction? …Can administrative and financial policies be developed to bring about transit and parking solutions appropriate to the urban university?” –Caudhill Rowlett Scott, Campus Planning Workbook, 1972

These formal efforts to address changes in student demographics, the city context and the quality and condition of buildings on campus started with ambitious regularity and have since become less regular with more long-term capital development goals. In the interim between the official Master Plans from 1972 and 2010, two in-house plans (Year 2000 Master Plan, 1982, prepared by the Master Plan Committee and SARUP Urban Design Plan, 1989, by students and faculty) again analyzed spaces on campus and laid out potential standards for going forward. Each Master Plan has attempted to resolve space issues driven by student enrollment, the need for public parking & transportation, and concepts for the image of the campus as distinct from the neighborhood setting. However, they retain the initial goal of creating a world class urban University.

Working around the limitations of a land-locked campus, UWM has also expanded its urban presence considerably by establishing outposts for specialized education in the Continuing Education spaces in the Grand Avenue Mall, the Joseph P. Zilber School of Public Health, the School of Freshwater Sciences, and the Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa. The 2010 Master Plan is the latest piece of an evolving effort to shape UWM’s urban campus around its core values, goals as a university, and an understanding of the needs of its students, faculty and community.

Master Plans and Studies (1960-Present):