U Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee May Get Iconic Union After Students Pass Referendum

Ann McClure's picture

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee wants its own Calatrava - an iconic landmark like the winged expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum that wows visitors and symbolizes a soaring future.

The urban campus came a step closer to getting its icon Friday when a student referendum for a new $160 million student union passed by a 3-to-1 margin. The referendum asked students to approve an increase in student fees to pay the lion's share of the cost, though a fundraising campaign offering naming opportunities for the building would help offset the cost.

The UW Board of Regents still must approve the project, along with the Legislature and governor. If it moves forward, ground could be broken in 2015, and the new union could open by early 2018.

The new union would replace an aging hub for student activities built in phases in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, when stark architecture of concrete and artificial lighting was in vogue on college campuses.

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