The University of Wisconsin-Madison is preparing to move forward with a proposal to build a $300-million college of engineering building.

The Wisconsin State Building Commission approved $1 million from the state building trust funds to prepare plans for the building as part of $71 million it OK’d for various projects during a June 22 meeting. This was the second round of funding the commission had approved for preliminary design. The Wisconsin Dept. of Administration has selected Continuum Architects + Planners, in association with SmithGroup and Ring & DuChateau LLP, as designers for the UW-Madison project. 

“These projects are critical for modernizing our state’s infrastructure and helping to make sure our buildings are operating efficiently and safely,” Gov. Tony Evers (D) said in a statement on the slate of approved work.

The 340,000-sq-ft project involves demolishing the existing 63,561-sq-ft computer-aided engineering facility, as well as portions of a materials science building. The building will consolidate instructional, research, lab, student organizational spaces and support services in one location. 

University officials say it’s their highest-priority major project and they anticipate it will help attract and retain faculty and draw more students. It will allow UW-Madison to increase its undergraduate engineering student enrollment from about 4,500 to 5,500. They also hope to add 650 graduate students and 120 faculty over six years. 

The university is seeking half the money for the project from the state in the 2023-25 budget, and will raise funds for the second half. Plans are for a 2024 construction start. Work is expected to take about three years.

The commission also approved funding for other projects, such as a $100-million Wisconsin Historical Society museum, Waupun Central Generating Plant water system improvements, an expansion to the state Dept. of Corrections' Wisconsin Secure Program Facility and electrical upgrades for the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.