Memorial Union Reinvestment

Media Kit

The Memorial Union Reinvestment (MUR) serves to transform the Memorial Union into a 21st century building while maintaining its original charm, function and purpose. The renovation focuses on improving accessibility, sustainability, and infrastructure while restoring beloved spaces and creating new ones for future generations to enjoy. At the close of the project, the Memorial Union will have received its first complete renovation since the building opened in 1928, and will seamlessly blend into Alumni Park as part of a new green space next to the Union that will open in 2017.

About the Wisconsin Union

The Wisconsin Union, known as “the heart and soul” of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), has enhanced the lives of members and visitors since its founding in 1907. The Union is based on the principle that the UW-Madison experience should involve learning outside of the classroom. UW students, faculty and staff, Union members and guests eat, meet, learn and relax daily in the two primary Union locations—Memorial Union on the shore of beautiful Lake Mendota, and Union South in the heart of campus near Camp Randall Stadium. The Wisconsin Union blends study and leisure, providing recreational, cultural, educational and social opportunities. Wisconsin Union events, programs and services continue to showcase this ideal today.

Project Overview

MUR Phase I

Phase I of MUR renovated and enhanced the west wing and the fifth floor of the Memorial Union. Accessibility needs were addressed by removing some of the level changes and by adding various ramps, lifts and elevators. The project included updating aging HVAC systems, plumbing and lighting. Phase I also enhanced the programming abilities for building users, most notably through Outdoor UW, the Wisconsin Union Theater, Wheelhouse Studios and the Wisconsin Union Directorate.

Final Phases

The final phases of MUR will address needed upgrades to mechanical, fire and sprinkler systems, as well as cosmetic restoration for many of the Memorial Union’s significant spaces: der Rathskeller, the Trophy Room, the historic Terrace, Main Lounge, Tripp Commons, Old Madison, Porter Butts Gallery and Great Hall. To meet the needs of students and members, the cafeteria-style dining space on the first floor has transformed into multiple unique eateries. MUR is addressing accessibility issues throughout the central core, east wing, and historic Terrace spaces. The final phases are part of the Lakefront Gateway, which includes restoration of historic Lake Mendota shoreline along the Terrace, the creation of Alumni Park between the Memorial Union and the Red Gym, and the reimagining of Alumni House.

About the Renovated Spaces of the Final Phases

DER RATHSKELLER

What goes best with socializing and merriment? Food and beverages. You’ll find a bright new servery and a different layout at the counter, but the burger, fries and Rath sauce are the same. Sandwiches and wraps have returned, with a focus on shareable appetizers, like a giant Bavarian pretzel. The best part about dining in der Rath? You don’t have to wait for lunch because breakfast has returned!  

DAILY SCOOP

It’s no secret. Babcock Dairy ice cream is as delicious as it gets. From a single scoop waffle cone to the Freshman 15 sundae with a 15 scoops of ice cream, all the classics are back and then some. The biggest differences? The lines (or lack thereof) and the view. Daily Scoop has moved and now faces the Red Gym, providing room for two service lines so you can treat yourself faster.

PEET’S COFFEE & TEA

When you need a break and a caffeine buzz, Peet’s Coffee & Tea provides an escape in the heart of campus with inviting seating and big windows. The location just inside the first floor doors makes it easy to grab a quick cold brew or linger over a latte.

DER STIFTSKELLER

Renovations to der Stiftskeller allow the Wisconsin Union team to better serve students, guests and Union members with its warm environment and social atmosphere. The pool tables and iconic murals have returned.

BADGER MARKET

Designed for convenience, the Badger Market is just inside the first floor entrance. If you’re in a hurry and need a quick bite or beverage, or if you’re looking for a way to keep a little piece of the Terrace with you, Badger Market has grab-and-go lunches, snacks, some grocery items, school supplies and, of course, Terrace gear and Badger apparel. The reinvestment project added a beautiful, new student lounge that also serves as an expanded Theater lobby during shows. The new lounge features glass walls designed to open onto the unbeatable Memorial Union Terrace.

STRADA AND CARTE

Two new dining options have replaced the original cafeteria-style dining options. Carte is a fresh, made-to-order sandwich and salad shop with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Strada, our Italian street food eatery, will feature hearth-fired pizzas, pasta dishes and piadinas—Italian flatbread sandwiches filled with cheese, meat and vegetables.

LAKEVIEW LOUNGE (FORMERLY LAKEFRONT ON LANGDON)

This bright seating area makes a connection between the inside and the Terrace. With floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass doors that can be opened to let the the outside in, Lakeview Lounge can be enjoyed in all seasons. And with access to dining options and plenty of outlets, it will quickly become the next best place to study when you can’t be on the Terrace.

GEKAS COMMONS (FORMERLY THE TROPHY ROOM)

The Gekas Commons, formerly known as the Trophy Room, serves as an extension of der Rathskeller, with additional booths and tables—ideal for studying, playing games or chatting.

The multicultural murals by renowned artist Leo Tanguma were dedicated in March 1996 and share the important message of unity through diversity. They are constant, stirring reminders of the Union’s role as a gathering place for all members of the University community.

About the Renovated Spaces of Phase I

OUTDOOR UW

Outdoor UW is the university’s outlet to the great outdoors: home to Wisconsin Hoofers, Mendota Lodge, the Harold C. Bradley Lounge and equipment rentals. Outdoor UW’s largest meeting room, the Chart Room, features a an impressive relief map of Lake Mendota, which serves as art as well as an interactive teaching tool.

WHEELHOUSE STUDIOS

Featuring cutting edge equipment, Wheelhouse Studios melds the former Mini Courses and Craftshop into a vibrant new entity that offers versatile workspaces, flexible studio designs and classes for enthusiasts and dabblers alike.

WISCONSIN UNION THEATER

Shannon Hall

This fully restored main performance space honors its historic, modern design and features an expanded orchestra pit and a host of technical upgrades to provide flexibility in the events the space can host.

Fredric March Play Circle

Fully equipped with the latest technology, the project transformed the Fredric March Play Circle into a “black box” space, featuring advanced lighting and sound systems and retractable seats that allow the space to host a wider variety of performances and seat up to 200 patrons.

Festival Room

The Festival Room’s size accommodates rehearsals without taking up space on the main stage. Available to all campus performance groups as well as those working directly with Wisconsin Union Theater, the Festival Room serves as an ideal space for dance, music and other group rehearsals.

Visit the Wisconsin Union Theater website to learn more and view upcoming events.

CAMPUS & COMMUNITY INFORMATION DESK

A resource designed to improve accessibility and direct patrons to services and spaces building-wide. Staffed by student information guides through the Campus & Visitor Relations program who provide assistance to building patrons and campus guests alike.

DER STIFTSKELLER

Renovations to der Stiftskeller allow the Wisconsin Union team to better serve students, guests and Union members with its warm environment and social atmosphere. The pool tables and iconic murals have returned.

SHANNON SUNSET LOUNGE

The reinvestment project added a beautiful, new student lounge that also serves as an expanded Theater lobby during shows. The new lounge features glass walls designed to open onto the unbeatable Memorial Union Terrace.

CLASS OF 1925 GALLERY

The Class of 1925 Gallery moved to a fully-accessible location and can now host a variety of art displays, hosted and coordinated by the student-led Wisconsin Union Directorate Art Committee.

BRAT STAND

Bigger and better than ever, the renovated Brat Stand now features more space and increased back-of-house access for better customer service, shorter lines and a happier dining experience overall.

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Contact Us

Please email union@union.wisc.edu with inquiries.