Wittich Hall Renovation Project moves forward

UW Board of Regents Committee gives go ahead

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents capital planning and budget committee gave the go ahead on the University of Wisconsin La Crosse’s Wittich Hall Renovation Project Thursday.

The second-oldest building on the UW La Crosse’s campus is undergoing some major transformations. It’s part of the campus master plan, and the university is aiming to make some big upgrades on the 100-year-old building while preserving its history.

“This building is kind of a monument, actually,” Chancellor Joe Gow said.

Built in 1916, Wittich Hall spent most of its years as the campus’s physical education building.

Most recently the home for gymnastics team practices, Wittich will soon trade in its practice mats and balance beams.

“This will be a state of the art College of Business Administration facility with classrooms, offices and places for student collaboration,” said Doug Pearson, executive director of facilities planning and management.

Gow said currently, the College of Business Administration doesn’t have its own building to call home.

“This new Wittich renovation will be exclusively the College of Business Administration, and serve current students better and attract more students in the future,” he said.

Campus officials said the upgrade will take a lot of interior work, thanks to severely deteriorating mechanical, ventilation and plumbing systems.

Old buildings, however, have character, which the university wants to keep around.

“It’s important to our university that’s 100 years old,” Gow said.

Renovation plans call for restoring certain historic features, both inside and out.

“This will be redeveloped so when you look at the track, that will actually be the floor of the upper level,” Pearson said in the old gymnasium. “They’re going to try to utilize existing windows to bring daylight into the building.”

“We get the best of both worlds this for project,” Gow said. “We have striking architecture features from the good old days, and then the modern technology of the newly refurbished building.”

The $25 million project is fully funded through university program revenue.

The plan will go to the state building commission for a vote, and if all goes as planned, construction would start in late summer of 2018.

The gymnastics team will practice in the Cartwright Center temporarily, but Gow said the university wants to get approval for a new field house project.