Campus gears up for move into new buildings

Classes may be over, but the UW-La Crosse campus is still buzzing — with the sounds of construction.

This summer the campus community can expect to see new roofing on Murphy Library, repairs to campus sidewalks and new energy efficient lighting in the Mitchell Hall gym.

But the most notable changes will be the completion of Centennial Hall academic building and Eagle Hall residence hall. Furnishings and equipment will begin to be moved into these buildings in June and July – respectively. Both projects are on schedule to be ready for move in by August, said Matt Lewis, executive director of facilities, planning and management.

Centennial Hall:

Equipment and furnishings will begin to be moved into the 44 classrooms and two auditoriums of the new 189,000-square-foot academic building at the beginning of June.

The building will offer advanced classroom technology and a sustainable design. In the new building, instructors will have technology at their fingertips — literally — as touch panels are easily accessed at the podium to control the projector, lighting, and devices such as DVDs.

Use of the sun to heat the building’s water and provide light are just two factors that add to Centennial Hall’s sustainable design. UW-L hopes to achieve a LEED certified silver rating. It’s evident from outside the new facility that it has a lot of windows; 90 percent of the spaces inside have natural light. This will save on energy costs as automatic systems adjust lighting levels based on how much light is entering a room. Lighting shelves — shelves that extend horizontally from windows on the building’s exterior — are used to reflect the natural light onto the ceiling inside rooms – increasing the reach of the light and reducing glare. At the top of the building are solar panels – part of the solar hot water heater. The system is designed heat all of the water used in the building on peak sun days. Lewis looks forward to seeing how much the solar heating system will save in water heating costs. It is the first water heater of this kind on campus.

The academic building project costs $38 million, with $35 million paid for by the state and $3 million raised privately by the UW-L Foundation.

Eagle Hall:

Residence halls on campus have been crowded — especially the last two years with the demolition of two residence halls to make way for the new academic building. Those cramped quarters are about to be relieved with the addition of 500 beds in Eagle Hall.

“We are now able to provide a lot more people with on-campus housing – which seems to be in big demand,” said Nick Nicklaus, director of residence life, noting 35 percent of undergraduates live on campus.

Equipment and furnishings will be moved into the new residence hall in July. It will be a big job as the 212,000-square-foot hall is now the largest building on campus. Such a large space with so many students will still have a strong sense of community. The building will be broken down into about 18 “houses” or smaller living communities made up of anywhere from 26 to 30 students. In each house, rooms surround a large community gathering area and breakfast nook with sink and microwave.

The residence hall is suite-style and rooms include a full bath, bed, dresser, desk and desk chair. A blend of returning students, freshmen and international students will live in the new residence hall.

The building, which also includes The Office of Residence Life, costs $39 million and will be funded by fees students pay to live in residence halls. This building is also designed to be LEED silver certified.

Work inside Wimberly Hall:

This summer the exterior of Wimberly Hall will be spruced up as deteriorated brick is replaced and joints are sealed. Also, now that classes are over, construction crews will begin remodeling work inside the building. Rooms 135, 136 and 138 Wimberly are being remodeled to accommodate a new College of Business Administration dean’s office. A large lecture hall, room 102, and a large classroom, room 112, will be completely remodeled and new technology will be added. Also, three rooms — 312, 315 and 310 —will be repurposed to create an archeology lab. Previously, classroom space in Wimberly was used for labs.

Other projects on the horizon:

Parking ramp:

A new place to park will likely be ready for cars in fall 2013, said Lewis. Construction of the new ramp will likely happen in May 2012. The project, which was included in the state’s capital budget, will have about 600 parking spaces and be built on the campus’ north side near La Crosse, 16th, 17th and Farwell streets. An 8,000-square-foot police building will be on the ramp’s east side. The police station is currently located in an old home at East Avenue and Farewell Street. That will be demolished when a new student union is constructed in the parking lot of Wimberly Hall, said Lewis.

The $12 million parking ramp and police station would be paid for by an estimated $78 increase in annual parking permits, which now cost $210 for commuters and $265 for residence hall parkers. The ramp has initial approval from the UW System Board of Regents and State of Wisconsin. Additional approvals of the building’s design are still required before it can be bid out for construction.

Cowley Hall:

The first phase of construction of a new science building would likely start sometime during the 2013-15 biennium and is anticipated to cost $80 million. A preliminary design of the building outlines a two-phase project consisting of a 339,000-square-foot facility with classrooms, research labs, teaching labs, office space and more. UW-L still needs UW System approval to begin the design process.

Student union:

UW-L recently hired an architect to help with the pre-planning of a student union in the parking lot next to Wimberly Hall. The architect will look primarily at the potential size of the building and how much it might cost. Construction could potentially begin during the 2013-15 biennium. First the project requires design planning and approval from the Board of Regents and State Building Commission.
The current student union, Cartwright Center, was constructed in 1959 with later additions in 1964 and 1986. The infrastructure of the building is beyond its life expectancy and the location, at the rear of campus rather than the front door, is not ideal, said Lewis.

Fast fact:
Departments to move into the new academic building: Multicultural Student Services; Campus Climate and Diversity; Career Services; Academic Advising; Office of International Education; English as a Second Language Institute; Student Support Services; Counseling and Testing; Wisconsin Covenant; First Year Experience; Communication Studies; Philosophy; Environmental Studies; Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies