University of Wisconsin Selects Science Facility Design Team

LA CROSSE, Wis. — University of Wisconsin La Crosse leaders have selected the collaborative of SmithGroupJJR, headquartered in Detroit, and local partner River Architects of La Crosse to design the university’s new $82 million instructional science facility. The project will involve a complete replacement of the school’s existing Cowley Hall, built in 1965, which houses the current UW-La Crosse science instruction facility.

The increased demand for access to the allied health professions programs as well as basic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses required by other degree programs has greatly increased pressure on the existing laboratory facilities, according to a statement by SmithGroupJJR. Additionally, the intense use of the facilities, coupled with Cowley Hall’s aging infrastructure, has made it increasingly difficult to accommodate students and deliver modern instruction.

The first phase of the project will establish a new 180,000-square-foot building located immediately north of Cowley Hall to house the instructional and research labs for the university’s physical and life sciences programs. Cowley Hall’s classrooms, lecture halls and faculty offices will remain operational during construction of the initial phase. Phase I is currently in preliminary design stages and construction is estimated to complete in 2018. LEED certification is targeted.

“This facility will alleviate the pressure on current laboratories that are unable to accommodate the level or intensity of use that is needed,” said Tony LoBello, SmithGroupJJR Learning Studio leader, in a statement. “With more than 85 percent of the building dedicated to instructional and research labs, the new facility will address the critical, immediate needs of students and researchers.”

Demolition work will comprise much of the project’s second phase, leveling Cowley Hall. A new 148,000-square-foot structure containing classrooms, collaborative learning spaces, offices, conference rooms and other ancillary departmental and building support areas will take its place and connect to the soon-to-be-built Phase I structure.

Upon completion of the project, the University will have a distinctive new home for science instruction and include the departments of biology, chemistry, geography/earth science, mathematics, microbiology, physics, river studies and the offices of the dean of the College of Science and Health.

Construction of the new instructional science facility is one of several campus projects in various stages of development. In September the university announced that more than $241 million in major building projects are currently underway, including a new residence hall and an expansion of the existing student recreation facility. Construction of a new student union will begin this spring, and the school’s SmithGroupJJR-designed $44.5 million New Education Building was just completed earlier this year.