The Marquette University Board of Trustees Sept. 24 approved moving ahead with the first phase of the university's new $100-million College of Engineering facility in downtown Milwaukee, Wis.

Marquette Engineering School
Photo: Marquette University
Artist's rendering of planned new building for Marquette University's School of Engineering.

The first phase will involve construction of a five-story, 100,000-sq-ft building on the south side of Wisconsin Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets.

Site preparation has already begun with soil testing and environmental demolition work on the interior of four university-owned apartment buildings. Marquette University President Robert A. Wild, S.J., said the university expects to break ground for the new building in spring, 2010, with initial occupancy planned for August, 2011.

The structure will feature an innovative Discovery Learning Laboratory and a two-story engineering materials and structural testing laboratory, as well as other new teaching and research laboratories, common areas for students and office space.

"With $25 million cash in hand and pledges of $10 million we expect to receive over the next two years, the board expressed confidence in our ability to move forward," Father Wild said. The university has pledges for more than $68 million of the projected $100-million cost, and will continue aggressive fundraising in order to complete the entire project as soon as possible, he said.

The initial structure will be linked to a future, 150,000-sq-ft building that will include classrooms, offices and additional laboratories.

"I'm confident that we will raise the full $100 million cost of the project � and I'm committed to doing so," said Opus Dean Stan Jaskolski. "We need more engineers, and we need a facility where students, faculty and our industry and educational partners can come together to problem solve and design solutions. This new facility is being explicitly designed for collaboration at multiple levels. It is truly a gift to the Milwaukee region, taking advantage of our urban location and providing space for innovation and idea sharing."

Tom Ganey, the university architect, said the phased approach to construction allows the university to move forward with the funds on hand while continuing to raise funds for the balance of the project. Opus North Corporation is the Design/Build firm for the project.

Marquette this summer had more than $130 million of construction under way. The university opened a new residence hall, Rev. James J. McCabe, S.J., Hall, in August, 2009; the hall was an extensive renovation of a former apartment building and retail space on the northeast corner of 17th Street and Wisconsin Avenue. A new student services/administration building at 12th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, Joseph and Vera Zilber Hall, is expected to be ready for occupancy this November.

And a signature building at the southeast corner of the campus, at the corner of 11th Street and Clybourn Avenue, is the new Marquette University Law School facility; Ray and Kay Eckstein Hall will open in the summer of 2010. Other building projects include the renovation of the Varsity Theatre and extensive remodeling of classroom and laboratory space in several academic buildings.