Campus as a Living Laboratory


Professor Utzinger, from the School of Architecture, challenges his students to turn the lens on the spaces they inhabit on the UWM campus and on the standards themselves for green building.  As an official U.S. Green Building Council LEED Lab, UWM has offered course work and independent studies related to campus existing buildings, operations and maintenance.  This project serves a dual purpose for the educational mission and operations of UWM by evaluating the impacts of green building design standards, while preparing students with practical real world experience.  While this “living laboratory” does relate to applying the LEED process, it also examines the standards deeper in order to see how they fully realize less environmental impact.  Goals for building this program include partnerships with area firms, enhancing the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework, and fully certifying a campus building through LEED EBOM.

Community Design Solutions- 2013 UW-Milwaukee Bike Study

In the fall of 2013, Community Deign Solutions conducted a thorough analysis of current conditions for bicyclists in and around the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee main campus. Bike rack types and locations, trails, routes through campus, issues of safety and security, storage, infrastructure, and avenues for obtaining bikes were some of the issues that were analyzed by CDS staff.

The completed study stemmed from the UWM Bicycle Advisory Task Force “Recommendations for a Bicycle-Friendly Campus” while also provided some groundwork for the 2015 UW-Milwaukee Transportation and Parking Study.

2013 UW-Milwaukee Bike Study

Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation Course

Students in Professor Schneider’s course research and reflect on the very spaces that they move through every day, in the city and on the campus.  In particular, student gathered information from Riverview Residence Hall, to better understand their perception of safety along North Avenue.  With a high response rate to a resident survey, students in the course were able to develop better, safer designs and share them with the city immediately.

Student Work

Perceived Safety of Crossing North Avenue Near UW-Milwaukee’s Riverview Residence Hall

North & Commerce Intersection Analysis

Public Policy Assessment Course-Maryland Avenue

Professor White’s Urban Planning PPA course took on the challenge of envisioning and redesigning the streetscape central to the main Kenwood campus.  The 2015 Open Streets event triggered the imagination around the possibility  of closing down Maryland Avenue to provide a central campus plaza.  The students created solution-based studies that addressed congestion, multiple stakeholder access requirements, speed determent, and creating a space friendly to bikes and pedestrians.

Campus Pollination Studies

UW-Milwaukee hosts a number of different types of green infrastructure (GI).  While the main goal is to manage stormwater runoff, it is also understood that GI supports other environmental services.  Studies are being conducted on campus grounds to compare pollination on green roofs and compare them to native prairie plantings.

UWM’s green roofs provide important habitat for bees – UWM REPORT

Architecture for the Birds

Bird fatalities landed right at the doorstep of UWM’s School of Architecture, literally.  “Architecture for the Birds” is a unique example of one discipline’s area of study leading directly into another’s.  Geography professor, Glen Fredlund created an app to monitor bird fatalities on campus, caused by a building’s glass façade.  Students as citizen scientists on campus tracked these bird strikes and deaths all over campus.  The highest rate of mortality turned out to be at the School of Architecture.  After being exposed to this data, Professor Furgiuele of SARUP picked up on this discovery and built a course to address it.  Student design work was born out of solving this problem of bird fatality.

Stormwater Management

In 2005, UWM completed a campus stormwater master plan entirely through an interdisciplinary team lead by Professor Jim Wasley.  The plan has triggered several more student projects as well as research on green infrastructure by Veolia Water.