Construction projects and renovations kick off this fall

UWM is getting a new look. Construction is starting this fall and early next year on a number of long-anticipated projects that will refresh and upgrade the university’s main campus.

The project perhaps most visible to students is the $40.7 million renovation of the UWM Student Union. The building normally gets around 20,000 visitors a day during the academic year, with many, especially commuter students, using it as a place to hang out, eat and study between classes.

The 350,000-square-foot building was mostly built in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. The theme of the work is “respecting, restoring and refreshing” the building, according to Carli Cole, project manager and associate vice president for HGA, the architect.

The plan, she added, “really focuses in on respecting the original architecture, restoring the interior and exterior to what it used to be, and refreshing the interior spaces.”

The renovations are scheduled to start this fall and be completed in 2023, according to J.H. Findorff and Sons Construction, which will be doing the work. Much of the focus will be on upgrading the building’s mechanical, electrical and alarm systems and restoring and cleaning the exterior. As part of the exterior improvements, contractors will be replacing the canopy at the entrance on Kenwood Avenue. A new west entry off Maryland Avenue will also be created.

In addition, about 50% of the project will involve interior upgrades. Those improvements will add windows and open up the concourse inside to bring in more natural light. The renovation will also create easier-to-navigate passageways throughout the building. These interior improvements will include lighting, audiovisual technology upgrades and new furniture in many of the union spaces.

The architects wanted to bring in more daylight by opening up the façade, as well as refreshing the furniture and finishes, and to “bring a bold sense of Panther pride to the building itself,” Cole said.

Improvements are also planned for the “penthouse,” a large mechanical room at the highest level of the building that now houses mechanical systems and air handling equipment. Structural reinforcements are planned for the building’s foundations and columns.

The Student Union will remain open at all times during the academic year throughout the renovation. As the project progresses, some areas will be closed to the public as they are being renovated. Detailed plans for “what happens when” are still being finalized.

A number of areas, including the Union Art Gallery,  will be temporarily moving because of the construction.

Other major upcoming construction projects include:

Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin Center

This 16,000-square-foot addition to the Klotsche Center & Pavilion will be used primarily by the Panthers men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The new facility will feature a full-size basketball court with the same design as the game courts, a basketball strength and conditioning center, video room, auxiliary sports medicine and treatment center, and basketball student-athlete lounge. A Panther Athletics Hall of History will also be included in the facility.

HGA Architects & Engineers designed the facility. A groundbreaking was held Aug. 25, and the addition is expected to be finished in fall 2022.

New Chemistry building

 This building will be located on Kenwood Avenue between the current Physics building and the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and UWM Welcome Center.

UWM received $129.5 million in state-supported borrowing to begin work on the building as part of the UW System’s $1 billion 2019-2021 capital budget plan. Construction will start in January 2022 and be completed in late 2023 or early 2024.

The new building will serve as a “gateway” to the STEM buildings and departments that house those subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It will house classes for the 2,400 UWM students who take chemistry classes each year, as well as classrooms for other science students.

Northwest Quadrant renovations

This $59.7 million project will provide safety updates, repairs and remodeling. Buildings C and D will be remodeled to house a nursing simulation center, the School of Information Studies and Student Health Services. This phase is expected to be completed in January 2022.

Entrances to Building B will be remodeled, with an expected start date of January 2022 and completion date of late 2023. Work is underway on remodeling floors 2, 3, 7 and 8 in Building D and floor 3 in Building C.

Building A, the oldest and most deteriorated part of the complex — which comprises about 25% of the complex’s square footage — will be demolished, starting in June 2022.

For updated information on these major projects and other construction projects, visit the campus building website.

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