UWM’s New Chemistry Building Topped Off
Four-story building will be gateway to STEM programs.
Construction on UW-Milwaukee’s new chemistry building has reached its highest point.
On Jan. 26, Chancellor Mark Mone gathered with several project partners to sign the highest steel beam in the four-story building and watch it be hoisted into place. It was exactly one year after a ceremonial groundbreaking was held for the facility.
The 163,000-square-foot structure, located at approximately 2000 E. Kenwood Blvd., will be a home for the UWM’s chemistry department and serve as a gateway to all of the university’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) departments and buildings.
The development, which includes a substantial utility relocation component benefitting several nearby buildings, was budgeted to cost $129.5 million in 2019.
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. Each school year more than 5,000 students take chemistry classes.
“The primary reason we’re excited about the new building is that it will be a state-of-the-art facility,” said then-department chair Joseph Aldstadt in a 2022 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 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 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.
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 chemistry building isn’t the only major construction project on the campus. A $41 million project to renovate the student union is progressing. 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.
The Northwest Quadrant (formerly Columbia Hospital) project included a lawsuit with the city over historic preservation. The city lost and the oldest portion of the former hospital, dating back to 1919, was demolished.
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