Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

MSOE Opens Viets Tower

New residence hall replaces Roy W. Johnson Hall.

By - Aug 20th, 2021 11:44 am
Inside Hermann Viets Tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Inside Hermann Viets Tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The newest addition to Milwaukee School of Engineering‘s campus is open, but former students may find something familiar about it.

Hermann Viets Tower is formed from a 13-story addition and complete redevelopment of Roy W. Johnson Hall (RWJ), MSOE’s oldest residence hall.

The facility is the university’s first “living-learning community” with two classrooms and a series of meeting spaces on the first floor and space for 552 residents above. A ribbon cutting was held Friday morning and the first students will arrive in the coming weeks.

A glass-clad addition protrudes from the southern edge of the original 1965 building. The first floor serves as the new entryway, with the shared university facilities located to the west and a secured, resident area on the building’s eastern side.

The upper floors of the addition include two-story collaborative spaces designed to encourage engagement between floors and create a place to gather. The new structure also includes additional dorm rooms and new bathrooms.

Gone are the narrow, windowless hallways that ringed each floor. The addition provides natural light and the three rooms nearest the elevator were reconfigured into two accessible rooms, creating a larger landing on each floor. A third elevator was also added. Every window in the structure was replaced, simultaneously yielding improved energy efficiency and increased sunlight. The interior, windowless restrooms are now private, accessible restrooms with excess space used for a kitchenette and modern IT infrastructure.

The cafeteria on the first floor is also gone, replaced by the classrooms, a new fabrication workspace and entrepreneurial space. A cafe and quick-serve space overlook the campus, with the main dining hall relocated to the campus center.

Residents will find amenities no former RWJ resident had: air conditioning and university-provided lofts.

Design work on the $37 million project was led by Ramlow/Stein Architecture + Interiors. General contracting was led by VJS Construction Services.

The new front door of the building overlooks the building’s next project, a campus green built atop a long-time surface parking lot. Across the green is the Dwight and Dian Diercks Computational Science Hall, which was the project that directly preceded the new tower.

The revamped residence hall, 1121 N. Milwaukee St., is named for Hermann Viets, the university’s president from 1991 to 2015. Viets passed away in 2017.

What about the man the building was originally named for? A large plaque honors Roy W. Johnson, who was chairman of the Controls Company of America and an MSOE regent.

The attached, five-story Regents Hall, built in 1990, was not redeveloped as part of the project. Students continued to live in that building during the last school year, using a temporary entryway. RWJ was closed following the 2019-2020 school year and the university suspended its on-campus housing requirement for sophomores from outside of the Milwaukee area.

The university also operates two other student housing facilities, Margaret Loock Hall at 324 E. Juneau Ave. and Grohmann Tower at 1150 N. Water St.



Pre-Construction Photos

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