Sandburg Renovation Project


The renovation of the three traditional towers began with the South Tower in August of 2019. The bathrooms, elevators, fire sprinklers, HVAC and ADA (accessibility) upgrades were the focus of the project. Residents were only assigned to floors 1-4 of South for the 2019-20 school year, allowing the contractors to work on most bathrooms and all three elevators during the school year. The work began at the top of the tower and gradually worked downward, completing the lowest floors in August of 2020. The South Tower opened in its entirety in August of 2020 (except for one elevator car that will still be worked on during the fall semester of 2020).  Going forward, all three elevators will become all-stops, thus the two operable elevator cars during the fall 2020 semester will both be all-stops.

Site work on North Tower has also begun in summer of 2020 and is anticipated to conclude prior to Move-In in August of 2021. Once again, the bathrooms, elevators, fire sprinklers, HVAC and ADA (accessibility) upgrades were the focus of the project. Residents were only assigned to floors 1-8 of North for the 2020-21 school year, allowing the contractors to work on most bathrooms and two of the three elevators during the school year. The work will begin at the top of the tower and gradually work downward, completing the lowest floors in August of 2021.

Work on the West Tower will follow North Tower and conclude the Sandburg renovation project.

Impact During Renovation

Once into the construction phase, University Housing has adjusted its building occupancy strategy to accommodate as many students as possible. During this time, RiverView Residence Hall will revert to its original status as a building open to first-year students. In addition, unaffected areas of the Sandburg Traditional Towers (North, South, and West) will have limited availability for upper-level students. Therefore, continuing students will mostly live in the following buildings: Sandburg East, Kenilworth Square Apartments, and Cambridge Commons. New first-year students will mostly live in: Sandburg North, Cambridge Commons, Sandburg West, and RiverView Residence Hall.

Key Dates

Nov. 2014 – University Housing (UH) Facilities Planning Committee presented a facilities project planning matrix to the Director of University Housing that highlighted a severe need for a broad scale approach to replacing the leaking plumbing and showers in the three older towers of Sandburg.

Jan. 2015 – South Tower Bathroom project is included in University Housing annual budget and prep work begins.

2015-2016 Academic Year – Predesign work progresses, including selection of Architect and Engineer for Sandburg South Tower Bathroom Project.

Fall 2016 – Project for South Tower is converted into a project for all three Sandburg Traditional Towers (North, South, and West).

Dec. 2016 – UW-System Board of Regents Approves Changes to Capital Projects from UWM.
The UW-System Board of Regents has approved the project scope and budget and UWS has been deeply involved with much of the planning and coordination that has taken place to date.  The State Building Commission has approved the project through the design phase but has yet to vote on a final decision to proceed with construction.  That vote is anticipated to occur in late February of 2019.  

Feb. 2017 – Gov. Walker Capital Budget proposes funding for Sandburg Project.
Selection of an architectural and engineering team (A/E) for this project occurred during 2017.  The principal A/E selected by the Division of Facilities Development and Management (DFDM) was Engberg-Anderson Architects, the plumbing design is by Thunderbird Engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering by IMEG Corp., fire sprinklers by CMG & Associates, and elevator consultation is by Performance Elevator Consulting.  In addition to conducting a thorough condition assessment of the existing facilities, these firms have also facilitated the stakeholder input and design processes.  Each firm will also be heavily involved in the supervision of contractors, materials and processes when the renovation begins. 

Aug. 2017 – WI Legislative Joint Finance Committee approves bonding authority for Sandburg project.
The project budget remains unchanged from when it was approved in the biennial budget request in August of 2017.  A total of $33,500,000 is allocated for the project.   

Spring 2018 – Architectural feedback sessions re: community spaces and layouts
The A/E team was tasked by DFDM to assess the current state of the facilities in the three traditional towers at Sandburg, create a master plan that would model renovations and improvements not just now but in the decades to come, to design a renovation project that could maximize necessary improvements to the facilities within the confines of the project budget, and to oversee the construction administration of the project.  The architectural feedback sessions with staff and students (including student leadership organizations) took place in February and March of 2018 as part of the master-planning process and were used to gauge student interest in various topics and ultimately help prioritize which items would remain in the project scope when challenging budget considerations were being weighed.  Because infrastructure needs and code stipulations require particular attention, some student-requested changes cannot be accommodated right now within the limits of the project budget.  Although significant changes to the layouts of the floors are unlikely to occur, input like increased countertop space in the bathrooms, inclusion of three all-stop elevators versus the current one, and sinks in the lounge kitchens are examples of resident suggestions that are being included in the project scope. 

Feb. 2019 – State Building Commission granted its final approval of the project.

Apr. 2019: Final drawings and specifications released for public bidding.

June 2019: Bid packets opened, Corporate Contractors, Inc. (CCI) of Beloit, WI is selected as the general prime contractor.

July 2019: North Tower under design.

Aug. 2020: South Tower completed; North Tower under renovation.

Photo Gallery

  • South Tower - Demolition for the renovation project began August 1, 2019.

Monthly Updates

November 2020

Week of November 9:

  • Floors 10-12 Install metal ceiling, install grilles and diffusers. Clean off entire floor and re-protect. All new bathroom floors and showers will be protected prior to finish work starting.
  • Floors 13-14 install ceramic tile at bathrooms and paint walls. Tile floors will be protected after installation.
  • Floors 15-17 Paint walls and prep bathroom floors and showers for water test on Friday.
  • Floors 18-21 Tape and finish walls for painting.
  • Floors 22-24 Finish electrical, plumbing rough, drywall to start later this week.
  • Floors 25-26 and Penthouse Finish ductwork install and rough walls.

October 2020

Week of October 19:

  • Floor 10 Install tile and replace floor protection. Lower noise.
  • Floors 11-12 Prep showers for flood test 10/23. Tile installation next week. Lower noise.
  • Floors 13-14 Finish walls and paint; start shower prep. Shower prep and flood test next week. Lower noise.
  • Floors 15-16 Tape and finish this week and early next week. Start painting next week. Lower noise.
  • Floors 17-18 Install soffits and prep for tape and finish. Tape and finish floors next week. Lower noise.
  • Floors 19-22 Air test is on and plumbing inspection. Repair concrete floors as needed starting 10/23 late morning and continuing all next week. Louder noise.
  • Floors 23-24 Finish miscellaneous framing. Start in wall M.E.P. rough. Lower noise.
  • Floors 25-26 Demo existing ductwork and start fabrication of new duct. Install silencers on exhaust risers next week. Lower noise.

Week of October 12:

  • Floors 10-11 Prep shower base for water test 10/16 at 7:15am. Low noise.
  • Floors 12-13 Prime and paint walls; start cub install at showers. Low noise.
  • Floor 14 Sand walls and prep for painting next Monday 10/19. Low noise.
  • Floors 15-18 Drywall walls and clean floors off. Low noise.
  • Floors 19-23 Start plumbing/electrical in wall rough. Insulate pipes and ductwork. Low noise.
  • Floors 24-26 Finish duct install this week.

Week of October 5:

  • Floors 10-11 Start painting 10/5. Start shower tile prep 10/8. Low noise.
  • Floors 12-14 Tape and mud walls prep for painting all week. Low noise.
  • Floors 15-19 Finish in wall rough. Install blocking and pipe insulation. Start drywall 10/12. Low noise.
  • Floors 20-24 Air test supply shafts. Begin framing walls. M.E.P. rough will begin by Thursday 10/8. Louder noise and hammer drilling.
  • Floors 25-26 & Penthouse Install duct risers. Load drywall materials. Low noise.

September 2020

Week of September 28:

  • Floors 10-14 Finish drywall tape and finish walls for paint prep. Paint is slated for floor 10 on 10/2. Low noise.
  • Floors 15-19 Continue framing of walls, plumbing and electrical rough. Moderate noise due to drilling and cutting.
  • Floors 20-24 Install supply and exhaust duct risers. Low noise.
  • Penthouse Install new door frame and light fixtures. Low noise.
  • There will be one larger delivery of drywall materials on 9/29 at 7:00am.

Week of September 21:

  • Floors 10-14 Install drywall tape and finish walls for paint prep. (These floors should be getting quieter in the coming weeks).
  • Floors 15-19 Frame walls, plumbing and electrical rough. Start drywall late next week. Moderate noise.
  • Floor 19 Heavy demo starting at 8:00 a.m. About 6 hours each day on 9/23 and 9/24.
  • Floors 20-24 Install supply and exhaust duct risers & plumbing carriers. Moderate to louder noise.
  • Penthouse & Roof Sawcut concrete opening for new door on 9/25. This will be pretty loud starting at 8:30 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. Generator will be placed on the ground level, at North Tower entry for temporary 480V power. This will have a low steady rumble.

Week of September 14:

  • Floors 10-12 Drywall and cleanup install sprinkler pipes.
  • Floors 13-15 Plumbing rough and insulation drywall at the end of the week. Demo and install sprinkler pipes.
  • Floors 16-19 Install shaft walls ( this requires hammer drill work) done after 8:00 a.m.
  • Floor 19 Heavy hammer drilling on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week.
  • Floors 20-24 Install ductwork and insulation.

August 2020

Work on South Tower is completed, except for one elevator car that will still be worked on during the fall semester of 2020. Highlights include a new 3rd floor community kitchen, updated ADA (accessible) spaces with wheel-in showers, a facelift for the lounge kitchenette area, and all three elevator cars now go to all floors.

North Tower renovation work has begun, with residents moving into floors 1-8 for Fall 2020.

January 2020

Floors 6-20 continue to see work with various tradespeople in the building. Current projects include: plumbing, HVAC, electrical, fire system, and framing/installing dry walls. Two different projects this month are causing increased noise: drilling into the walls to install pipe hangers for the new plumbing, and cutting out elevator doors for the new stops on even-numbered floors. Fun fact: the new plumbing systems will install more than 40,000 lbs. of pipe, tubing, and fittings in Sandburg South Tower.

Related Media

Presentation to MENA

Communication Archive

Email to all North Tower residents - 8/28/2020
Dear Students & Families,

On behalf of our University Housing department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I want to welcome you, and share some important updates regarding housing in 2020-2021.

In August of 2019, after many years of planning and designing, we began moving forward with a major renovation in Sandburg Residence Hall Traditional Towers, which are quickly coming up on their 50th birthday. The renovation focuses on updating the plumbing and ventilation infrastructure, while adding elevator stops on floors where they did not previously exist, and exponentially increasing the number of ADA-accessible suites we are able to offer. These are all projects we consider vital to the long-term success of Sandburg Hall and UWM. During 2019-20, the renovation began with a focus on South Tower; currently, work has begun on North Tower for 2020-21; and it will finish up with West Tower. To stay up-to-date with our renovation project, please visit, where we will continue to post updates as the project continues.

During the renovation, we will continue to have residents living in North, South, and West Towers, when those areas are not under construction. While our residents in Sandburg are situated on the Kenwood Campus near many academic buildings and classes, they will also have to deal with the noise and bustle of living next to a construction site. To alleviate some of the impact, University Housing will have agreements with contractors on what times of day they can be active and will have “buffer floors” between spaces where work is being completed.

North Tower residents: Because your tower is currently under renovation, please make sure you follow signage for elevators that are currently in use for students and use stairs whenever possible to decrease wait times. The North Tower laundry room is still available for use, but you must use the elevator to access it on the G2 level.

We are confident that all of our residents (regardless of their academic class, hometown, or room assignment) will enjoy the community, amenities, and fun that come as part and parcel of the UWM University Housing experience.

If you have any questions, please contact our University Housing Office at (414) 229-4065 or Our office is open 8:00am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday.

Go Panthers!

Email to all South Tower residents - 8/25/2020
Dear South Tower Residents,

Please be aware that elevator contracts have to access the Sandburg South Tower Penthouse multiple times per day through the end of the calendar year (12/31/2020).

If you experience any issues or concerns within your suite that are not an immediate concern, please submit a work order through

If you experience something more concerning (i.e. no hot water, fire equipment not working, or toilet not flushing) please contact the service desk at 414-229-6123 and have them page maintenance to come and check it out.

Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to seeing you on campus soon!

University Housing