Jeramey Jannene
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UWM’s New Chemistry Building Rises

Building will be a gateway to STEM education on UWM campus.

By - Aug 12th, 2022 09:02 pm
Construction of a new UW-Milwaukee Chemistry Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Construction of a new UW-Milwaukee Chemistry Building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The future home of the UW-Milwaukee Chemistry Department is rising up from the ground.

The four-story, 163,400-square-foot building is being constructed at approximately 2000 E. Kenwood Blvd. It is intended to serve as a gateway to all of the university’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) departments and buildings.

Design work on the new facility, for which the first floor is visible, is being led by a partnership of CannonDesign and Kahler Slater. VJS Construction Services is leading the general contracting.

“This new facility will represent much of what the Wisconsin Idea is all about,” said then-UW System President Tommy Thompson at the Jan. 26 groundbreaking. “To meet the state’s biggest and thorniest challenges and, most importantly, to equip our students with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.”

“Chemistry underlies nearly every growth industry, and we know that STEM jobs are growing faster than non-STEM jobs,” said UWM Chancellor Mark Mone. “Employers need graduates who have the opportunity to conduct practical research and develop skills to solve problems. We are delighted to begin work on a new, modern chemistry building that will better prepare our students for the multitude of opportunities open to them.”

The current chemistry building, located just north of the new facility, was completed in 1972. It will be demolished following the completion of the new building.

A university report says the department has more than 250 undergraduate students, 70 graduate students in MS and PhD programs, 18 faculty members, 18 academic, technical, administrative staff members and 10 post-doctoral fellows and visiting faculty members.

“The primary reason we’re excited about the new building is that it will be a state-of-the-art facility,” said department chair Joseph Aldstadt in a UWM report. “We’ll be able to significantly enhance our teaching, research, and outreach missions. We’ll have new learning spaces for lectures, tutoring, study groups; new laboratories that integrate teaching and research, with efficiencies in design that make collaborative research easier to do.”

Northeast of the new building is the Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex, which was completed in 2015. The utility infrastructure for the two buildings will be linked. The research center was the first facility in what is intended to be a cluster of new STEM facilities.

The new chemistry building is being developed on the site of what was most recently the Kunkle Center, 2114 E. Kenwood Blvd. The one-story structure was demolished starting in 2014. It was known as the Campus Elementary School when it was constructed in 1958 and housed the university’s children’s center from 1975 until its demolition. The Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, which also houses the university’s welcome center, was constructed on the eastern portion of the site in 2019.

The project has been several years in the making. Monthly design workshops with faculty members began in early 2018 and the State Building Commission authorized the project’s construction in December 2020.

The project is expected to be completed in fall 2024, a couple quarters later than it was originally planned. If you want to watch the action, a webcam is available.

The chemistry building isn’t the only major construction project on the campus. The State Building Commission and Wisconsin State Legislature also authorized a $41 million project to renovate the student union. The oldest part of that facility dates back to 1956. J.H. Findorff & Son is leading that contracting work and HGA is leading the design. A series of other projects, including a Klotsche Center expansion and a Northwest Quadrant update, are underway.


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