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Placemaking Around the Yahara Lakes at the University of...

Placemaking Around the Yahara Lakes at the University of Wisconsin

The city of Madison, Wisconsin is blessed to have an abundance of lakes. Thankfully the forefathers of our parks system attempted to attain as much of the land along the lakes as they could in order to preserve it for future generations of park lovers. Currently the city has forty-eight shoreline parks that serve as

The city of Madison, Wisconsin is blessed to have an abundance of lakes. Thankfully the forefathers of our parks system attempted to attain as much of the land along the lakes as they could in order to preserve it for future generations of park lovers. Currently the city has forty-eight shoreline parks that serve as venues for a variety of activities - from soccer games to beach volleyball and even ice skating in the winter.

Not only is the city investing in these beautiful lakeshore parks, but the University of Wisconsin is as well. The Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) has raised money for various projects and events around the university campus - most recently for the Goodspeed Family Pier which was installed last year. This pier is the only public access for boaters on the campus side of lake Mendota. Plus, the pier is adjacent to the university’s Memorial Union terrace - a place where many families, students, and faculty flock to eat brats and hotdogs, drink pitchers of beer, and listen to live music during summer evenings.

A view of the Memorial Union from the Alumni Center, Madison, Wisconsin

The Alumni Association has another big project up their sleeve. They plan to create an Alumni Park that will connect the Goodspeed Pier and Alumni Center to the Memorial Union. Currently, there is just an old parking lot wedged between the Red Gym (the old armory) and the Memorial Union. The addition of a park that could serve as a civic place for community, alumni, and students would bring picnic spots, gardens, and even an outdoor classroom space to the east side of campus.

The future home of Alumni Park, Madison, Wisconsin   An Ariel sketch of the future Alumni Park, Madison, Wisconsin

The future home of Alumni Park, Madison, Wisconsin

The future $8 million park will be entirely funded by the Alumni Association and financial gifts provided by University of Wisconsin graduates. Construction of the park will begin this spring and finish in the Fall of 2015. According to the WAA, the new park will serve as a symbol of the “Wisconsin Idea” - a principle that the university should improve people’s lives beyond the classroom, whether it be through teaching, research, outreach or public service. The six guiding themes of Alumni Park will include leadership, service, discovery, progress, tradition, and legacy.

The future outdoor classroom in Alumni Park, Madison, Wisconsin

Aside from the outdoor classroom, there will be interactive installations to educate visitors about the wonderful legacy of the university and alums. The New York-based landscape designer hired for the project, Dennis Cohen, hopes to create an outdoor museum of sorts to honor the university through photos, digital display boards, and potentially even smartphone apps that lead visitors through the park. Not only will this 3 acre project turn an unattractive parking lot into a beautiful green space, but it will also promote education and discovery next to one of the most popular summer hangouts in Madison.

Is your community, city or university invested in creating fun, new green spaces?

Credits: Images by Kaylie Duffy. Data linked to sources.

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Kaylie Duffy is currently pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Studies, Geography, and Russian Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. While writing and photographing for the university’s student newspaper, The Badger Herald,...

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