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Friday, September 29, 2023

UW-Madison forms West Campus District Plan, looking for feedback

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is aiming to finalize the West Campus District Plan by the summer of 2023. Seeking to expand the university’s reach westward, the West Campus District Plan was formed as the 127-meter space did not attract many students and faculty.

Denoted in the 2015 Campus Master Plan, planning of the new space began in August 2022. The final plan is expected to be delivered to the Board of Regents. 

“Shared interests, needs and concerns of campus and community members will be used to directly inform the final plan,” the West Campus District Planning Team said.

The land is an area of “untapped potential,” according to the plan’s homepage. Through careful planning, the team is looking to tap the potential of the region, giving the UW-Madison community a shared space to connect. 

Planned additions to West Campus include schools, hospitals, federal agencies, utility infrastructure and athletic, outdoor and recreational spaces. All additions to campus bounded on east of Willow Creek are considered part of this district.

Noted within the plan are the Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Nursing, Pharmacy, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Along with the other additions, the team believes their plan will increase student opportunity in accordance with the university.

“Our hope is that expanded collaboration with industry and additional space for corporate and industry partnerships will provide unique and desirable internships, apprenticeships and employment opportunities with UW-Madison students,” the team explained. “The campus’ development aspirations are directly aligned with the Wisconsin Idea, which offers important commitments to the livability and success of our community.”

Central to these opportunities are additions of federal agencies: the USDA’s Forest Products Laboratory and Cereal Crops Research Unit. Both these agencies are part of the plan and existing staples of the west campus area.

Healthcare is the largest recipient of this addition, with the University Hospital, Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital and American Family Children’s Hospital being main parts of the District Plan. 

“The West Campus is home to some of the nation’s leading health systems,” the team noted. “Future development will support expansion needs for research teams across the campus.”

The team also explained that the increased focus on healthcare will create new opportunities and resources for students. 

“The regional reputation of the trauma center and UW Health draws referrals from across Wisconsin and the Midwest. This creates a need for growth and capacity increases to serve patients,” the team said. “The new lab and academic spaces in the district will also enable growth in our research activities across campus and enable deeper collaboration with industry partners.”

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The team is also looking for ways to explore the possibility of the area outside of current plans. 

“There is a shared interest among district stakeholders for housing, lodging, food and beverage, retail, daycare, fitness and recreation, parking and other amenities,” according to the plan’s homepage. “Carefully planned development of facilities and amenities can create a better ‘sense of place’ and an improved experience for those who live, work and study in the district.”

Development will start with the 2024 deconstruction of Biotron Laboratory and take place in phases over 15 years, the team explained. Located near Lakeshore Nature Preserve’s Willow Creek, sustainability will be a main focus in construction.

“The West Campus District Plan includes significant attention to the existing Master Plan, particularly around sustainability and its connection to the Willow Creek project,” said the team. “The planning process will also consider opportunities for innovative construction and materials used to have a smaller ecological footprint throughout the development process.”

Transportation and parking will also be emphasized in the planning process.

“Parking and mobility are a critical focus of the planning and analysis process, especially as we look at options that may further densify the district,” the team noted. “We are working with a transportation consulting firm to ensure mobility, accessibility and parking are incorporated into all options.”

As the West Campus District Plan kicks off, the UW-Madison community is invited to contribute feedback regarding the project. The team will be hosting three open house events — two on Feb. 22 in the Health Sciences Learning Center Atrium at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., along with a third and final open house on Feb. 23 at 11 a.m. at Gordon Dining & Event Center’s Overture Room. There is also an online community feedback tool, available at

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Jasper Bernstein

Jasper Bernstein is the Associate News Editor for The Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @jasperberns.


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