Current Status of University Development (2022-2027)


UW-Platteville/Zine Report

UW-Platteville is currently engaged in an evolving capital plan for multiple campus buildings within the next five years. This plan includes a significant overhaul of Ottensman Hall, as well as other buildings.

The renovations planned for Ottensman Hall are considered a cornerstone project for campus. Ottensman Hall has served as UW-Platteville’s workhorse engineering building since opening in 1966. In the past 58 years, the building has seen no major renovation or construction other than an addition in 1986.

“For the last two biennia we have had (Ottensman Hall) as our number one request from campus as far as projects go,” campus engineer Katrina Hecimovic said.

The 2019-2021 Biennial Campus Physical Development Plan explains, “The functional and physical condition of Ottensman Hall is grossly unacceptable for a STEM-focused university…Ottensman Hall is a structurally-sound building but is rapidly failing to physically and functionally support the STEM programs housed
within. The building’s
mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure is beyond life expectancy. Heating, cooling and humidity are uncontrollable in areas of the building.”

Notably, the Ottensman Hall renovations have largely been contingent on the building of the Sesquicentennial Hall addition.

“A campus this size can only handle so many building construction projects at  the same time,” Hecimovic explained, further noting that the completion of Sesquicentennial Hall has allowed for the partial emptying of Ottensman Hall.

Currently, the UW- System Capital Budget Request has listed the Ottensman Hall project planning at number two under the “Planning and Development” list, with $8.8 million dedicated to the project in the 2023- 2025 biennial budget and enumeration for construction in the 2025-2027 biennium.

While waiting for budget approval for full-fledged planning, Hecimovic said that pre-planning for the Ottensman renovation is currently underway. This planning process includes surveying feasibility and needs assessment, current building condition assessment, current infrastructure, construction phasing and cost estimates.

“The intent of the proposed Ottensman Hall Renovation project is to repurpose Ottensman Hall from a 1960s-era engineering building to a modern and effective academic and student services building,” according to a building pre-design study.

This document also states that the basement and first floors of the building are to be designated for campus services and staff offices and the second and third floors will be updated for continued use by the chemistry department.

Ottensman Hall is not the only building to be getting attention. A corresponding plan to these renovation projects considers the future of Pioneer Tower as well as the four relic dormitory buildings currently used for academic and student support.

A note in the Appendix
for the 2019-2021 CPDP explains that, despite the adequate structural condition of Pioneer Tower, “the building design poorly and inefficiently supports faculty and staff offices campus support functions.” While potential plans to expand Pioneer Tower to increase space efficiency and usefulness have been considered, it is likely to remain as-is for the near future, with plans to raze the building being considered.

Additional plans for the renovation project also consider the future of Brigham, Gardner, Warner and Royce Hall. The 2019-2021 CPDP report notes that these buildings are “among the lowest-quality, most inefficient spaces on the campus.”

That report goes on to note numerous mechanical, electrical, plumbing and HVAC deficiencies and faults, as well as poor space and energy efficiency. Current capital plans indicate these four buildings are to be razed after their functions have been relocated to Ottensman Hall post-renovation.

Though the projects involving Ottensman Hall and Pioneer Tower are the major focus of upcoming capital planning, there are some minor projects on the horizon.

“We’re looking at exteriors of buildings, roofs of buildings; we’re looking at the systems underground like all of the utility systems, water, steam, chilled water and all of our electrical systems as we add new and exciting solar arrays. Sesquicentennial Hall, updating Boebel … we need to start updating our other infrastructure so they can support everything that our students and faculty need to stay relevant with updating pedagogy,” Hecimovic said.

In the coming years, these projects include exterior repairs and maintenance to William’s Fieldhouse as well as Boebel Hall seeing the installation of a new biochemistry lab to replace the current one in Ottensman Hall.

Also, plans for repairs, maintenance and updates to the Central Heating Plant are upcoming, which would also include a boiler capacity upgrade to the main plant.

While these current plans are tied to budgets and growth projections as UW-Platteville emerges from the COVID pandemic and shutdown, they reflect an evolving sense of how the campus best utilizes campus space. In additional reporting in the coming weeks The Exponent will explore the history of capital planning and aspirations beyond the near future.