The University of Wisconsin will construct a new Letters and Science Academic building on the corner of Park and Johnson streets to replace the Humanities Building, university officials announced Wednesday on Bascom Hill.
College of Letters and Science Dean Eric Wilcots said it will be the first major classroom instructional building built for the College of Letters and Science since 1972.
“We need physical spaces to reflect our values and make it easier, not harder, to learn and teach,” Wilcots said at a press conference Wednesday. “It will inspire rather than intimidate, welcome rather than impede and make the learning experience more equitable.”
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Brothers and UW alumni Jeff and Marv Levy donated $20 million toward the construction of the building in honor of their late parents who also attended UW. The brothers are owners of Phillips Distributing Corporation in Madison, a full-service supplier of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
The building will be named “Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall” to commemorate their parents.
In addition to the Levys’ donation, the project was included in the state’s 2021-23 budget, which will allocate $60 million toward the building.
“I want to thank Governor Evers and the Wisconsin legislature for providing some of the critical state funding,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said at the press conference. “The last time we built a new building for the College of Letters and Science, there were 13,000 fewer undergraduates on this campus.”
The state’s support catalyzed the Levys’ donation, according to the press release. UW Foundation CEO Mike Knetter emphasized the importance of private support like the Levy’s donation to sustaining UW’s status as a top-ranked university at the press conference.
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The total cost of the project is $95 million. Though the $60 million from the government and $20 million from the Levys make up the bulk of funding, UW is still short $15 million, leaving approximately 16% of the project unfunded.
UW is “in the midst of working on [raising an additional $15 million],” Chancellor Blank said after the announcement.
UW hopes to begin construction in 2023 and open the building in 2025, Wilcots said. Blank said the new building is needed to replace the current Humanities Building because it is “no longer functional.”
“The heating and cooling systems don’t work very well, there’s water running down the walls, the concrete is deteriorating and the classrooms cannot support modern technology,” Blank explained.
The new building will require the demolition of two residence halls, the Susan B. Davis Hall and Zoe Bayliss Co-op, according to a UW press release.
When completed, Blank and Wilcots said “Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall” will provide a unified space for the history department, as well as nine other L&S departments.
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“Irving and Dorothy Hall” will have five stories with 26,000 square feet classrooms varying from auditorium-style lecture halls to smaller seminar rooms.
Blank said the building represents a reinvestment in the core liberal arts courses that shape the UW experience.
The building will be located across from the Business School in Grainger Hall.