The state building commission released funding this week totaling $170 million for two major projects on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. The commission approved UWM’s planned new $129.5 million chemistry building and $40.7 million student union renovation. The planned new chemistry/biochemistry facility, which would include labs for undergraduate STEM research and collaborative areas, is planned just west of the new Lubar Entrepreneurship Center at North Maryland Avenue and East Kenwood Boulevard. The new 162,723-sqaure-foot building would replace the school’s aging existing 150,000-square-foot chemistry building at 3210 N. Cramer St. on the west side of campus. The existing eight-story chemistry building was constructed in 1972 and the majority of the building infrastructure systems are original to the facility, according to a building commission report. With the release of state funds, construction is scheduled to begin in September 2021 with completion expected for September 2023. The long-planned Student Union project will include renovating about 120,000 square feet of the 350,000-square-foot building at 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. The project is aimed at addressing the most pressing maintenance needs for the building, which dates back to 1956. The original 26,000-square foot building has been enlarged over the years with three major additions. It was last renovated in 1986. The majority of the building complex's infrastructure is energy inefficient and does not meet current building codes, according to a building commission report. The project will include exterior envelope restoration and cleaning, minor site upgrades, selective roof replacement, and installing exterior building canopies at the Spaights Plaza and west Kenwood entries. It will also include interior upgrades on the street level, campus level and second and third floors. Construction is expected to begin June 2021, with completion expected for December 2023. The project will be funded with $35 million in borrowing and $5.7 million in program revenue. The building commission also released $500,000 in funds to support planning for a new UWM engineering building. Plans include demolishing the existing 108,329-square-foot physics building, preparing the site and constructing a 93,000-square-foot replacement engineering building. The facility would include a laboratory cluster that supports core courses, interdisciplinary spaces and first-year-engineering. The facility would also be the new home for the three-year-old Biomedical Engineering program and create new instructional spaces to serve the electrical, environmental, industrial, and mechanical engineering programs. The existing physics building, completed in 1964, requires extensive renovation work, including nearly replacing the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, according to a building commission report. The estimated budget for the new building is $118.4 million. UWM will also move forward with a $6.5 million renovation project for its existing engineering and mathematical sciences building. The school plans to renovate 13,398 square feet on the ninth and tenth floors to create new laboratory space for the School of Engineering. The state building commission approved a total of $350 million in projects across the state Wednesday. “Whether maintenance and repair or renovating and expanding buildings where our UW students will learn and innovate, these projects are important investments in the future of our state’s infrastructure,” said Gov. Tony Evers said.
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