Lawrence University Officially Opens $35 Million Campus Center with Weekend Celebration

APPLETON, WIS. — After nearly 20 years of discussions, planning and revisions, the most ambitious building project in Lawrence University history and one of the most environmentally friendly higher education buildings in all of Wisconsin will bask in the spotlight of a grand opening ceremony.

Lawrence will commemorate the completion of the Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center with a weekend celebration beginning Sept. 18-20, culminating in a community open house on Sunday, Sept. 20 from 1-4 p.m.

A ceremony beginning at 5 p.m. Friday (9/18) featuring Lawrence President Jill Beck and the Warches will officially open the $35 million, 107,000-square-foot campus center.

The building honors Lawrence’s 14th president, who led the college from 1979 until his retirement in 2004, and his wife. His 25-year tenure is second only to that of Samuel Plantz (1894-1924) in the college’s 162-year history.

In addition to tours of the building, the community open house on Sunday will feature student music and dance performances, an alumni art exhibition and a screening of the documentary film “Mary and Bill,” which tells the inspiring story of two remarkable athletes: Mary Stroebe, a 1940 Lawrence graduate who began competing in triathlons in her mid 80s, and Bill Wambach, a 1946 Lawrence graduate, who competed as a high jumper at the age of 83. Rik and Margot Warch will be on hand to greet visitors from 2-3 p.m.

Lawrence will provide free shuttle bus service to the campus center for Sunday’s open house from the Soldier’s Square and City Center parking ramps in downtown Appleton. Signage will be posted at each ramp’s main entrance.

Warch-Campus-Center_blog.jpgA complete weekend schedule can be found here.

According to Beck, the building has surpassed expectations.

“The design of the campus center is so clever,” said Beck. “From the front, it blends magnificently with other campus buildings. From the back it almost blends seamlessly with nearby Sage Hall, and that’s helped with the sense of coherence. We’ve linked both sides of the campus together. We’ve got the academic hub and the social hub on each side of Lawe St. and the designs make it all seem very harmonious and attractive.”

With striking vistas of the Fox River and vast, light-filled spaces, the four-story building showcases the scenic beauty of its location. Among its amenities are:

• a 134-seat cinema, featuring state-of-the-art lighting, projection and sound

• a logo merchandise store

• a campus post office

• a convenience store and cafe

• dining services and catering facilities run by Bon Appétit Management Company

• meeting space for students and student groups

• 12 reservable venues to accommodate up to 500 guests

In planning the building, a goal of earning LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “Silver” certification was originally sought, but now college officials are hoping the campus center will receive “Gold” certification, the second highest designation on the green building four-level certification system. A review by the U.S. Green Building Council is currently underway and certification results are not expected for several more weeks.

If the Warch Campus Center is LEED certified Gold, it would become the first higher education facility in Wisconsin to achieve that level of certification and one of less than 25 buildings of any kind in the state to be certified Gold according to the Green Building Certification Institute, which administers project certification for commercial and institutional buildings.

LEED certification provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving energy savings and water efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions, improving indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources.

Among the Warch Campus Center’s environmentally friendly features are:

• a partially vegetated roof system of soil and green plants to absorb rainfall and decrease storm water runoff.

• low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption by more than 30 percent by standards mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

• heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems designed to be 21 percent more energy efficient than industry standards require.

• wood certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council that has been harvested with environmentally and socially responsible forest management practices.

• more than 20 percent of all materials used in the building were extracted regionally (within a 500-mile radius)

• adoption of a Green Cleaning program which involves the use of LEED-certified cleaning products and recyclable paper products

• formaldehyde-free interior building materials to ensure healthful indoor air quality.

In addition, more than 96 percent of construction waste for the building — seven million pounds worth — was recycled and saved from being deposited in a landfill.

Construction of the Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center is a key component of Lawrence’s current $150 million “More Light” capital campaign. It was made possible by a $16 million leadership gift from an anonymous donor in August, 2006. Work on the center began in June, 2007.

KSS Architects of Princeton, N.J. was the design architect of the campus center and Uihlein-Wilson Architects, Inc., of Milwaukee was the architect of record. The Boldt Company of Appleton served as the project’s general contractor.