Public speaks up on academic building

Superior residents and students took the opportunity Tuesday night to comment on the new academic building at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Superior residents and students took the opportunity Tuesday night to comment on the new academic building at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

The building is now a reality and UWS took a step toward the construction with the first meeting of its Environmental Impact Statement process. Ayres Associates is developing the statement for the university.

Attending the meeting were local residents, UWS employees, a politician and a student. The meeting was an attempt to get input from local residents about their concerns and interests in the building, which will be built at the corner of North 16th Street and Weeks Avenue.

The academic building will be a three-story facility housing classrooms, computer labs, faculty offices, student support services, meeting rooms and open gathering spaces. The building is designed to replace McCaskill and Sundquist halls, which will be razed following the opening of the new building.

A greenhouse destroyed with the removal of McCaskill Hall will be rebuilt as an addition to Barstow Hall during the construction of the new academic building. The UWS daycare program will be moved to Hawkes Hall.


Sundquist Hall was originally built as a residence hall and is being used for faculty offices. McCaskill Hall was built as a laboratory elementary school not for college classes, said Dennis Johnson, manager of environmental services at Ayres Associates.

The Environmental Impact Statement period runs through June. The university is planning to present the final building design next fall and start construction in February 2009 with completion in fall 2010.

Douglas County board member John Robinson expressed the concerns of area residents who are worried neighboring properties may be impacted by the new building, he said.

The building is to be constructed entirely on UWS property, said Jan Hanson, vice chancellor.

UWS senior Tegan Wendland brought forth students' concerns about the loss of trees in the campus' arboretum.

"It's a really significant green space," she said. The trees are used for labs by botany students.

Wendland also expressed a desire for the building to be environmentally friendly with the use of green technology and recycled materials.

Some of the trees will be cut down during the building process, but the university has a policy of replacing trees on campus, Johnson said.


Once Rothwell Student Center and academic building projects are complete it's estimated the campus will have more green space than it has now, Hanson said.

College neighborhood resident Paul Baxter expressed concerns about light pollution and drainage.

Lighting is a big concern for the university in the design of this project. The city has new light pollution ordinances UWS must follow. The university is also working to install energy efficient lighting with the project, said Tom Fennessey, director of facilities management.

Light pollution is one issue the architects will need to consider, Johnson said.

The building is being designed to take advantage of natural light with an east-west oriented light well or atrium running the length of the building. The light well will allow natural light to reach all faculty offices and classrooms in the new building, Hanson said.

Building plans include three tiered seating lecture hall classrooms. These rooms will seat between 80 to 150 students each. Several 40-60 seat classrooms are also planned on every floor of the building.

Construction of the building is estimated at about $32 million with $7 million coming from Campaign Superior donations and the rest from the state.

The academic building will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications, but the university is not planning to seek LEED certification for the project, Hanson said.


Other sustainable design features could include the use of such features as water conserving sinks and toilets and motion sensor lights, but the design process is not that far along, she said.

"I'm really glad to see the university be so progressive," Wendland said.

Based on written comments and public comments Tuesday night, Ayres Associates will develop a draft of the academic building's Environmental Impact Statement. The draft will be available to the public Jan. 17 at the Superior Public Library or online at . The public will have 45 days to review the draft.

What To Read Next
Get Local