The La Follette School of Public Affairs plans to move to the iconic University of Wisconsin-Madison building, Music Hall. Musical Hall began as the first university library on campus, but the current state of the building is not suitable for a successful public affairs program, explained the Director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs Susan Yackee.
Architect and Project Manager Matthew Aro, Interior Designer Christine Pearson and Yackee hosted a student input session to discuss the proposed changes to Music Hall. Through an hour-long Microsoft teams session on Wednesday, Jan. 25, the hosts hoped to gain a greater understanding of the types of rooms, spaces and technology that would be beneficial to undergraduate and graduate students in the public affairs program.
To begin the call, Aro and Pearson explained that an advanced planning study establishes the scope of the project work, the tentative schedule of events and the budget for the entirety of the project in order to begin design and construction.
Students, project assistants and teaching assistants all expressed hope for a larger collaboration space during the input session. An addition to Music Hall along Lathrop Drive will make the desire for more space in Music Hall a reality, explained Aro and Pearson.
The current timeline estimates the project will conclude in 2027, meaning the participants who voiced their thoughts will likely be visitors to the updated building — rather than students utilizing it.
In addition to the student input session, an interactive, multipart survey will be released in the near future to help the planning team visualize what students want the work and study spaces to look like, according to Pearson.
Pearson further explained that the survey will contain images of possible room setups that students can place “sticky notes” next to. Green sticky notes will correspond with details of the room that students want to see implemented and red will be details viewed as unnecessary. Respondents can leave comments on the notes clarifying which parts of the image they want to see added to Music Hall.
The survey will also contain a building amenity wishlist section where participants can put a dark green, light green or red dot next to amenities they need, would like or believe are necessary for the updated space.
The last survey element will be an open forum and Q&A section. This part of the survey contains questions that will give the project team a detailed image of what La Follette students want to see in their future workspace Aro and Pearson explained.
Some questions will ask about study spaces on campus that students like and dislike, the types of resources and technology necessary for success, and who has access to such spaces.
“Your input here today can have a major impact,” Aro said during the session. “We want to hear about what you think of the spaces that you interact with and you use every day and every week on campus.”
Throughout the call, participants shared similar opinions about what they envision Music Hall to look like. La Follette Project Assistant Sam Landowski said the current offices are in the attic of Bascom Hall, making them difficult to access and giving the space a “dungeon feel.”
Many other project assistants agreed with Landowski. They followed up with the request for an open space with desks, workspaces and printer access.
One anonymous project assistant expressed the desire for a space to create a community feel within the school.
“The more accessible the better. Right now, we're so fragmented in the La Follette basement that it's hard for people to gather, study or socialize,” she said. “To have a home base that's central and comfortable for people to just stop by to study or have lunch would really facilitate more of the community building that we're looking to do.”
The survey will be due by Feb. 3, and Aro and Pearson agreed on the hope to see many detailed responses. The thoughts expressed in both the input session and survey will carry significant weight in the direction of the project, they added.