Trends Summer 2016 | Page 18

CHANGING THE CAMPUS LANDSCAPE PUTNAM PARK Master plan leads to critical improvements above and below the surface at picturesque Wisconsin university DAVIES CENTER By Wendy Kinderman T he University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been known as “Wisconsin’s most beautiful campus” for decades. Founded in 1916 as the Eau Claire State Normal School, the campus is surrounded by natural beauty. The campus grew along the banks of the Chippewa River, with academic buildings on both sides linked by a picturesque footbridge. Putnam Park, a 200-acre State Natural Area, originates at the river and meanders along and behind the campus. Little Niagara Creek flows through the lower campus into the Chippewa. “The Hill” rises from lower campus (home to most academic buildings) to upper campus (home to most residence halls and other support facilities) – a change in elevation of nearly 100 feet. SOUTH SCHOFIELD LAWN CENTENNIAL HALL Like many universities, UW-Eau Claire grew rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s as the Baby Boomers came to college. New buildings were needed, and quickly. And those natural features that make UW-Eau Claire beautiful also limit where more buildings can go. The need to house and educate ever more students meant that bricks and mortar at times trumped green space. “Decisions were made that weren’t as much about the long term as about need,” said Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations. But starting in 2009, two major building projects – a replacement for the student union (W.R. Davies Student Center) and a new education building (Centennial Hall) – plus the demolition of the old Davies Center changed the landscape of the University – both above and below ground. SCHOFIELD HALL CENTRAL PLAZA CHIPPEWA RIVER GARFIELD AVENUE Rindo explained that the University developed a new master plan as design was in progress for the new Davies Center. The master plan takes a long-term look at the campus and how it functions. In addition to siting future buildings, the plan pays close attention to the cultivated areas of campus, he said. But while the natural and cultivated landscapes are what students, staff, faculty, and visitors notice, the infrastructure underneath the grass and flowers is even more crucial to the smooth functioning of the campus. To serve the new Davies Center and Centennial Hall and the rest of lower campus, the University undertook two major steam infrastructure 18│TRENDS TRENDS │19