Ribbon cutting and open house March 7 celebrates recently completed renovation

By Laurie Krasin

A ribbon cutting ceremony followed by an open house celebrating the completion of a $7 million UW-Manitowoc renovation project will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7 at the campus, 705 Viebahn St., Manitowoc.

The renovation was a partnership between Manitowoc County, which approved $5 million for the project, and the State of Wisconsin, which provided an additional $1.5 million for fixtures, equipment and previously planned energy-saving building modifications. Private donors also supported the project through the UW-Manitowoc Foundation. The general contractor was A.C.E. Building Service, Inc.

students studying in library

A brief program will include remarks by the following speakers:

  • Bob Ziegelbauer, Manitowoc County Executive
  • Ray Cross, UW System President
  • Cathy Sandeen, UW Colleges and UW-Extension Chancellor
  • Martin Rudd, UW Colleges Northeast Regional Executive Officer and Dean
  • Laurie Crawford, UW-Manitowoc Foundation President

This investment in the campus included moving and updating the library; creating a new science commons; and updating art studios, science labs and classrooms. Electrical, plumbing, HVAC and other infrastructure items were also updated or replaced. Founders Hall, where the majority of renovation occurred, had not been significantly updated since 1962.

With a timeline for the project of less than one year, cooperation between the campus and contractors was important. Demolition began in May 2017 immediately following the end of the spring semester and continued through the summer months. Some classes met in temporary spaces on campus during the fall semester so that construction work could continue.

“Because everyone worked together, the project was completed for the beginning of spring semester classes,” said Martin Rudd, UW Colleges regional executive officer and dean. “We coordinated with the construction crews so that noise was kept to a minimum where classes were occurring. We had plastic sheeting blocking the main hallways and we used outside routes more than usual, but everyone was understanding and supportive of the very tight timeline for completion to benefit our students.”

The library staff and volunteers at UW-Manitowoc packed up more than 31,000 items in its collection including books, CDs, DVDs and periodicals during the move to a more centrally located space on the first floor, with an impressive lake view.

“The renovation has allowed us to serve as the hub of intellectual life and student support that libraries are intended to be,” said Anthony Sigismondi, associate academic librarian. “Since we opened in September, faculty and students have used the diverse learning spaces we provide in a variety of meaningful and creative ways - holding lab sessions, student research symposiums, and open office hours right in the library. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

The new library offers a variety of spaces for individual or group study appreciated by students. “The new library allows for students and the community to enjoy great books and media resources as well as comfortable study spots with beautiful views of the Lake Michigan,” said Mariah Zahn, UW-Manitowoc student and library staff member.Students sitting on couches in library

A new science commons area created during the renovation is already in use all day, every day, according to Rick Hein, UW-Manitowoc biological sciences professor. “Students have been studying, taking breaks between classes and eating lunch there. It has even become a space for tutoring and research meetings.” One wall of this commons area is covered with dry erase paint for collaborative work or for students to display their artistic skills. “It has been exciting for me to hear all of the activity from my office – the space is alive and exciting,” said Hein.

The new relocated art studios on campus are a big step up, literally, for the UW-Manitowoc Art Department said Berel Lutsky, UW-Manitowoc art professor. “Studios once located in the basement, affectionately called the ‘dungeon,’ have been relocated to a spacious, well lit space.”

The printmaking studio moved to a properly ventilated and adequately plumbed space with lots of lighting that will enable students to work comfortably and safely said Lutsky. “We have also added a laser engraver/cutter, a 3D printer, as well as a ‘new to us’ proofing press. These additions help to put us in the forefront of studio art education and are opportunities for our students to work at the cutting edge of this technology.” The renovation also includes a new digital imaging studio/lab with an 80 inch touch screen for enhanced instruction and distance education possibilities. 

The UW-Manitowoc Foundation started a capital campaign and private donors supported enhancements to the project. Through private donations, 96 windows that were boarded up decades ago in Founders Hall were replaced with energy efficient windows, once again letting in natural light to the labs and classrooms. This transformed the look of the interior spaces, reducing the need for artificial lighting. The foundation also funded new laboratory equipment and paid the costs for unexpected structural items uncovered during the demolition.

“Because of these renovations, we are well-poised for the future,” said Rudd. “We have a lot to be thankful for in all of the work to get this renovation completed. But primarily, it is the current and future generation of learners in our area who will benefit for years to come. Our facilities are now able to better reflect the outstanding education we have always provided here and will continue to do so.”

Self-guided tours of the new spaces will be available during the open house event. The evening begins with a ribbon cutting in the commons area near the new library (Note - this is a change in location to originally published info). These project contractors are providing light refreshments during the open house: A.C.E. Building Service, Dirkse Glass, Edgewater Plumbing, Hubbartt Electric, Kaeden Services and Lee’s Color Studio.

An RSVP is requested, but not required. Please call the UW-Manitowoc Foundation office at (920) 683-5052 or email paula.mossdramm@uwc.edu.


Media Inquiries: Laurie Krasin