SOUTH CAMPUS UNION, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN – MADISON
Scope: 187,000 GSF Union and Guest Room Facility, and Underground Parking
Total Project Budget: $94,800,000
Completion: Spring 2011
UW-Madison students expect their voice to count. With a unique culture, Madison students did not form one design committee, but fourteen. During the design process for UW-Madison's Union South, students traveled throughout Wisconsin in search of materials to incorporate into the new building. The intense student and community engagement helped produce a building that speaks fluent Madison, reflecting the core identity of the city and the university. The design demanded an ethnographic approach that respected the complexity of Madison's culture and celebrated a highly engaged and empowered student body. The ideals, the standards, and the self-empowered nature of the students added intricacy to the project, while also ensuring its complete adoption.
The old Union South had failed on every level: socially, financially, aesthetically, and functionally. Conversely, Memorial Union, with its iconic lakefront terrace, was deeply embedded in the psyche of the university and the city as a whole. Union South had to stand on its own; it could easily have failed as an attempted replica of Memorial Union or as an impulsive reaction against the old Union South. Without competing with Memorial Union, Union South has matched its popularity and has quickly become a beloved building, embedded in the identity of the university. It offers a warm, intimate, and densely programmed space that attracts both students and community members to simply enjoy the experience.
Although expectations began high, Union South continues to out-perform what anyone believed possible. The building revenues have increased by a staggering 200% and have maintained that increase since opening. Union South now draws visitors from around the state who travel to Madison specifically to vacation in the building. Couples get married on the terrace and in the sunroom in front of the fireplace. A hub for the city, Union South epitomizes a successful bridge between the university and the surrounding community; it is at once energizing and relaxing to explore.
"Workshop Architects understands the philosophy of a college union – that it's much more than a collection of wonderfully designed program and service spaces. They go out of their way to truly connect with their clients – at times and in locations that are convenient to students. Attentive … Responsive … Ideal Partners -- all of these describe the entire team at Workshop Architects. They are uniquely qualified to create the best in union facilities for today and in the future."
-Mark Guthier, Union Director, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Mark Guthier, Union Director, University of Wisconsin - Madison
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