As some students prepare to leave Madison next week after finals, construction crews are getting ready to tear up large portions of the University of Wisconsin campus for several projects.
Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities, said several ambitious projects are due to begin immediately after students leave, including the demolition of Ogg Hall, the A.W. Peterson building near the Chazen Museum and the Food Research Building. The university will also build a new bike path and upgrade utilities.
Despite the hopes of Chancellor John Wiley for a spectacular Discovery Channel-style implosion, Fish said Ogg will be systematically "deconstructed" piece by piece over four to six months beginning before October.
"It would be very exciting, but it'd be very dangerous," Fish said. "We actually explored whether this could be blown up, and we were very concerned with underground utilities beneath Ogg that could be significantly damaged."
With the slower and more tedious approach, Fish said the university would recycle 75 to 80 percent of the materials, which will also offset some of the cost for the comprehensive undertaking.
"It's probably a little more expensive but it's safer and, actually, we're able to recycle more building materials," Fish said. "We're sorting it as we go and can recycle more than if it's a giant heap to work on."
Erika Rence, president of the Wisconsin Student Planning Association, a student group through the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, said UW is taking a step in the right direction with the decision to recycle the building materials.
"It's very good as opposed to destroying it," Rence said. "When you implode, it leaves behind a large pile of rubble and materials that could potentially be reused — it may cost a little more but it's better as far as sustainable building solutions."
After it is completely removed, the space at 716 W. Dayton St. will be used as part of the east campus mall project stretching from Regent Street to Library Mall.
"There will be a park in that area with green space, volleyball and basketball courts," Fish said.
Fish said crews will break ground on a 19-month project to upgrade facilities and streets in the western part of campus. A new bridge over Willow Creek near the Natatorium to Highland Drive will also be included in the $26.5 million project.
In the same area, UW will construct a 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path from University Bay Drive to just east of the School of Veterinary Medicine near Campus Drive. This is due to open in October.
Rence said the new bike path will provide another opportunity to avoid fossil fuel consumption on campus.
"Anything where students have the opportunity to use transportation other than buses or cars is a great thing," Rence said.
In addition to the west campus upgrades, Fish said a 35-foot-wide trench will be opened this summer near the new University Square development in a $19.9 million utility project through 2009.
"The lower campus is going to really be a mess," Fish said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it. At the end of the day, though, it'll all be connected from Library Mall past the Kohl Center to Regent."