UW-Madison Proposing Nine Story Chemistry Renovation

A $112 million nine-story renovation of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Daniels Chemistry Building, slated for opening in the fall of 2019, would bring a “generation behind” science facility up to date, chemistry department chair Robert McMahon said Friday.

“It’s hard to convey a sense of the excitement of science in these antiquated facilities,” McMahon said.

The project would remove 39,800 square feet of the Daniels Building, including the north wall facing University Avenue, and demolish the two-story former Abiel Brooks Residence at 1121 University Ave. That building is attached to the eastern wall of The Crossing, a campus Christian ministry located just to the west of Daniels on University.

 The state approved $86 million for the first phase of the project, and the university is fundraising the rest, Gary Brown, director of Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture, said. The Board of Regents and State Building Commission is set to act on the decision in December.

Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2017 and be completed in the fall of 2019, Brown said.

Though the Brooks residence was originally constructed in 1851 as a private residence and later acquired by the Wesley Foundation, the Madison Landmarks Commission previously determined the building has no known historic value. Brooks was an early builder in Madison who made his fortune in the 1849 California gold rush.

Genie Ogden, a distant relative of Brooks who does not own the property, has expressed concern about demolishing the house because she said it is part of Madison’s history.

“The Brooks’s sold land to the University so they could build the Chemistry (Building) and other buildings,” Ogden wrote in a letter to the city. “I find it ironic that the UW now wants to destroy their home.”

The new and renovated space would include classrooms, lecture halls, labs, offices and support spaces from the basement through the eighth floor. Space for mechanical equipment is reserved on the ninth floor.

“It’s an important project for us because chemistry and the intro level classes feed a lot of the other departments,” Brown said. “It’s become a backlog for us because we can’t provide the services we need for the students who need to take those courses.”

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