Memorial Union Reinvestment

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Restore the Memorial Union?

Memorial Union has been one of the most beloved destinations on campus since its construction in 1928. The Memorial Union Reinvestment seeks to ensure that it continues to provide experiences for a lifetime for generations to come.

Preserve and Honor an Iconic Campus Destination Memorial Union has not seen a comprehensive restoration since its construction in 1928. The project will maintain the historic integrity of Memorial Union by preserving iconic spaces like the Terrace, Rathskeller, Stiftskeller, Union Theater, Main Lounge, and Great Hall.

Enhance the Wisconsin Union Experience The project will provide up-to-date, dynamic spaces for activities, events and services to the University community. An improved physical home will enhance the Wisconsin Union’s ability to provide opportunities for lifelong learning and provide the University community with space to gather to relax, study, and socialize. A rehabilitated building will allow students, faculty, staff, and Union members to create new memories and traditions for decades to come.

Improve Accessibility Prior to the reinvestment project, Memorial Union had 27 levels, some of which could only be reached by stairs. The project has and will continue to improve accessibility in accordance with ADA standards, improve way-finding, and alleviate numerous level changes in the building.

Upgrade Infrastructure The project is bringing the 86-year-old Memorial Union up to code on fire safety, sprinklers, energy efficiency, asbestos abatement and other upgrades. The project also includes replacing building systems (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.) that date back many decades.

Promote Sustainability The project is adhering to the latest principles of green design and sustainable practices, with a goal of achieving a LEED Silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

How have students been involved in the process?

Students play an integral role in the design process of the Memorial Union Reinvestment. Students consistently shared their ideas and input through surveys, open forums and interest group meetings. The three main design bodies that make important design decisions are led by a student majority.

How is the Memorial Union Reinvestment (MUR) funded?

The building project is being funded through a variety of sources:

  • Students (via non-allocable segregated fees)
  • Private donations
  • Revenue generated by Union services
  • Segregated fee details
    • $48 per semester in student segregated fees for the first two years following the plan’s implementation
    • $96 per semester after the first two years, for up to 30 years. Students will never pay more than $96 a semester for construction.
    • Student fees cover up to 58% of construction costs. Union operating revenue and donations will cover the rest.
    • This fee includes funding for the construction of Union South and the preservation and enhancement of Memorial Union.

Will Memorial Union remain open during Final Phase construction?

The Memorial Union will remain open during construction, but parts of the building will close so they can be renovated.

Which meeting rooms will be available to reserve during the final phases of renovation?

  • Council Room
  • Langdon Room
  • Fredric March Play Circle
  • Founders Room
  • Festival Room
  • Chart Room South
  • Shannon Hall

Can I still eat at the Union?

Der Stiftskeller will remain open during renovations. In addition, the Badger Market, the Daily Scoop and Peet’s Coffee & Tea opened to serve customers Dec. 5, 2016. Der Rathskeller, Carte and Strada opened in January 2017. In addition, the Brat Stand, the BBQ Stand and the Lakeview Lounge service counter are open seasonally spring through summer.

Will the historic integrity of the building remain?

We are working closely with the Wisconsin State Historical Society to preserve the historic integrity and charm of the building. The Society wrote a preservation plan for the Memorial Union, which the Wisconsin Union team utilized throughout the project. A historic structure report was created as part of the process. Beloved parts of the building, such as the Great Hall or Tripp Commons are undergoing infrastructure updates, keeping the original charm of the spaces.

Where can I park near Memorial Union?

Visitors can utilize the more than 1,400 visitor parking stalls located within three blocks of Memorial Union:

  • Lot 6 (Helen C. White Library Parking Garage)
    • 70 metered parking spaces available daily in the upper level
    • 83 meters in lower level available to visitors evenings and weekends only (except on special event days)
    • Sundays, and after 10 p.m. Mon-Sat free
    • Located west of Memorial Union
    • Enter on Park Street
  • Lot 46
    • 92 metered visitor spaces
    • Available daily
    • Located between University Avenue and Johnson Street, adjacent to University Square
    • Enter on Lake Street
  • Lot 83 (Fluno Center)
    • 50-100 spaces
    • Available daily
    • Adjacent to Lot 46; enter on Lake Street
  • Lot 7 (Grainger Hall)
    • 45 metered spaces available for limited hourly parking daily
    • 400 visitor spaces available evenings and weekend hours (except on special event days)
    • Sundays, and after 10 p.m. Mon-Sat free
    • Located between University Avenue and Johnson Street
    • Enter on Brooks Street
  • Lake Street Ramp
    • 1,066 spaces of paid visitor parking
    • Available daily
    • Located three blocks southeast of Memorial Union on Lake Street between State Street and University Avenue
    • Enter on Lake Street or Francis Street

Where can I find handicap-accessible parking?

Visitors with disabilities can park in the Helen C. White Library parking ramp. The State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) disabled permits or DIS and VET DIS plates may park in the disabled stalls (unless signs indicate UW Disabled permits are required) and meters (30 minutes or greater) without paying an additional fee.

Where can I park my bike?

Bike parking was added in front of the Memorial Union at the west wing. Bikes can also be parked at Helen C. White Library and along Park Street.

What's being built between Memorial Union and the Red Gym where Lot 1 used to be?

As part of the Lakefront Gateway, Lot 1 is being rebuilt as Alumni Park, which will offer new green space, access to the lake shore, and a capstone to the East Campus Mall with a wonderful view of Lake Mendota.

Memorial Union’s previous above-ground loading dock has been replaced with an innovative underground loading dock. The new loading dock includes a massive turntable-like structure–­­much like a railroad roundhouse–­­that will enable delivery trucks to turn in the confined space.

Where can I find the inter-city buses that used to load right in front of the Memorial Union (Megabus, Badger Bus, etc.)?

The inter-city buses, including Megabus, Van Galder and Badger Bus currently pick up and drop off across from they Pyle Center on Langdon Street. Customers can still purchase Van Galder regional tickets at the box office on the first floor of the Union. Click here to learn more.

Will there be a loss of trees or greenspace?

As construction continues this summer on the Lakefront Gateway, visitors will see many changes in the greenery along the east end of UW-Madison’s lakeshore. While the work has required the removal of some older trees, many more are being added, and plans include replacing 1.25 acres of asphalt with the lawns and gardens of Alumni Park.

The Lakefront Gateway area currently has fewer than 50 trees in total. After construction concludes, that number will grow to 75. In all, the new Lakefront Gateway — which combines Alumni Park with One Alumni Place (a renovated alumni center) and the Memorial Union Reinvestment — will see the inclusion of 10,600 plants in the area between the Memorial Union Terrace, Lake Street, and Langdon Street. To learn more about the planting plan, click here.