UW-Milwaukee: Work starts on new chemistry building

MILWAUKEE_Groundbreaking for a new chemistry building at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was held Jan. 26 with an event at the Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex, 3135 N. Maryland Ave. Speakers at the event included Tommy Thompson, president of the University of Wisconsin System; David Crowley, Milwaukee County executive; UWM Chancellor Mark Mone; and Scott Gronert, dean of the College of Letters & Science.Guests saluted the start of building with a smoking lemonade toast, which signaled the excavator outside the building to start digging.(Note: Video from today’s ceremony is available online for media use, as are photosRenderings of the new building are also available.)The new facility will be located just south of the current Chemistry Building, between the Physics Building, 1900 E. Kenwood Blvd., and the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and UWM Welcome Center, 2100 E. Kenwood. UWM received state-supported borrowing to begin work on the building as part of the UW System’s $1 billion 2019-2021 capital budget plan. Construction is scheduled to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024 at a total cost of $118 million.The new four-story, 163,400-square-foot building will serve as a gateway to the STEM buildings and departments that house those subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It will include space for the nearly 5,000 UWM students who take chemistry and biochemistry classes each year.  “Chemistry underlies nearly every growth industry, and we know that STEM jobs are growing faster than non-STEM jobs,” said UWM Chancellor Mark Mone. “Employers need graduates who have the opportunity to conduct practical research and develop skills to solve problems. We are delighted to begin work on a new, modern chemistry building that will better prepare our students for the multitude of opportunities open to them.” Figures from a 2021 American Chemistry Council fact sheet showed chemistry industry jobs generated $1 billion in payroll across Wisconsin and $121 million in state and local tax revenue. One in five new jobs in Wisconsin are in science, technology, engineering and math fields, which are rooted in chemistry, according to Chemistry Department Chair Joseph Aldstadt.  In addition to UWM students who take chemistry, so do high schoolers and middle schoolers from across the state and K-12 teachers who come to learn how to design classroom lessons for their students.“As the ‘central science,’ students in a broad array of fields — natural sciences, health sciences, engineering — have curricula requiring knowledge of chemistry, an understanding of the structure and reactivity of matter in its myriad forms,” Aldstadt said.“For research, we are a key contributor to the university’s R1 designation for research excellence,” he said. “We average over $5 million per year in extramural funding, $49 million in the past decade.” The new building will replace one that was built in 1972.“The primary reason we’re excited about the new building is that it will be a state-of-the-art facility,” said Aldstadt. “We’ll be able to significantly enhance our teaching, research, and outreach missions. We will have new learning spaces for lectures, tutoring, study groups; new laboratories that integrate teaching and research, with efficiencies in design that make collaborative research easier to do.”The architecture/engineering team for the project is led by CannonDesign in partnership with Kahler Slater. The general contractor is VJS Construction Services Inc.