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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Mechanical engineering,   pp. 217-219

Page 217

Fig. 1. Mechanical
Engineering, 1932. A "U
shaped building of con-
crete and steel, sheathed
with Madison sandstone
rubble, some of the last
stone to be taken from
the west-side quarries.
[series 9/6 Mechanical
Engineering, x25-586]
Mechanical Engineering was the first significant building erected after the University
decided to move engineering from Bascom Hill to the Camp Randall site. It was built
in 1929, and encloses an older shop building within its "U" shape.
Even with the completion of the 1910 addition to the 1900 Engineering Building on Bascom
Hill, the post WW I burst of enrollment in the school of engineering, caught the department
off guard. Due to lack of funds the engineering department, with a freshman enrollment which
doubled between 1916 and 1920, could build nothing but the Randall shop building, which alleviated
the worst crowding of the heavy machinery and equipment laboratories. This shop building was
significant in a number of ways. It was twenty thousand square feet of relatively inexpensive
($65,000) laboratory space for a very cramped department. Most importantly the Randall shop
building (known as "old sawtooth" for its distinctive roof design), established a precedent for the
location of the engineering campus. The old engineering building had been built on Bascom Hill
before any coherent general plan for the campus existed. A 1920 examination of the Bascom Hill site
by state architect Arthur Peabody, yielded the opinion that because of the steep terrain the site could
be expanded enough to provide for no more than fifteen years of enlarged enrollment. This was
insufficient for the regents. '
The 1908 Laird, Cret and Peabody plan for the campus had set aside a large area for engineer-
ing on University Avenue between Charter and Randall Streets. In a triumph of the vision and influ-
ence of dean Charles Bardeen and his associates in the medical school, this site became the location of
the hospital and medical college buildings. As a result Arthur Peabody developed and the regents

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