Sandburg Renovation Project


The renovation of the three traditional towers will begin with the South Tower and is expected to start in August of 2019.  The bathrooms, elevators, fire sprinklers, HVAC and ADA (accessibility) upgrades are the focus of the project.  Residents will only be 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 will begin at the top of the tower and gradually work downward, completing the lowest floors May-August of 2020.  The South Tower is expected to open 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 is anticipated to begin following Commencement in May of 2020 and conclude prior to move-in in August of 2021.  Work on the West Tower will begin during the summer of 2021 and conclude in the summer of 2022.

Impact During Renovation

Once into the construction phase, University Housing will be adjusting 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, 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

November, 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.

January, 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. 

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

April, 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

Photo Gallery

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

Monthly Updates

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