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Big, expensive changes coming to UW-La Crosse

$241 million worth of renovations over next few years

Big, expensive changes coming to UW-La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Some big changes are coming to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's skyline.

Over the course of the next few years campus renovations are estimated to total around $241 million.

Chancellor Joe Gow says the university is very fortunate to have such large projects in the works, but they are all much needed.

Three to four years of remodeling at UW-L kicked off this summer with the renovation of the Graff Main Hall Auditorium.

"That was about a $1.3 million project that just upgraded the existing auditorium to make it more conducive to current education with higher level IT, new seating, ADA accessibility," Facilities, Planning and Management executive director Doug Pearson said.

The lecture hall was built in 1909 and the touch-up process finished just in time for students.

Faculty says another out-dated building on campus is the science building Cowley Hall.

"We're trying to do 21st Century Science in a 20th Century building, that doesn't work so well and the sciences are one of the most popular areas here at the university," Gow said.

A new 180,000 square foot science lab building is going to be built in what currently serves as the buildings parking lot. Gow hopes to begin the $82 million project in late 2015.

Across the street from the future science building is the Wimberly Hall parking lot, which is the future site of the next item on the list.

"We need a new student center. the current one was built in the late 50s and think how the student experience has changed since that time," Gow said.

"New student center is a $53 million project. Bids came in totaling about $1 million under our budget," Pearson said.

The more than 200,000 square foot building will have a shovel in the ground beginning in October.

With all the parking spaces being taken away, where will staff and students park on campus?

"We're currently in design on two more levels of the parking deck that will provide enough parking for the spaces displaced by the new student center," Pearson said.

"Keep the university moving forward. That's what's best for our students. That's why they keep coming here. You know our goal is to keep making this the best university it can be. So that's why these facilities projects are so important," Gow said.

There are many more projects that make up the $240 million. Things like renovations to multiple buildings on campus, an addition to the rec center, a new gymnastics and storage facility.

Gow says the university will also be looking into a new residence hall to keep up with enrollment, but that is still in the early stages of planning.

To keep all these new buildings cool during the hot weather the university will also be building an additional chilled water plant, which will air condition the growing campus. That project is scheduled to begin next spring.

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