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Feldman, Jim (Writer) / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Temporary buildings,   pp. 256-257

Page 257

of the schools of engineering and agriculture. These areas got fourteen of the twenty six total tempo-
rary buildings. Other clumps were located more centrally behind Bascom Hall and at the comer of
University and Park Streets. It is not surprising then that the first burst of permanent building after
WW II consisted mainly of engineering and agricultural facilities.4
Foundations and utility construction began in early 1947. The buildings were erected in the
summer and fall of 1947. By the beginning of the 1947 school year 120,000 square feet of temporary
classrooms, labs and lecture halls were ready. Some of these buildings were very large: 50 by 200
feet. By spring 1948 the buildings were all complete. The total cost had been about $490,000. Stu-
dents and staff alike complained that the buildings were drafty and cold, and a visual blot upon the
beauty of the campus.
Even with their faults the temporaries were a lifesaver for the overstuffed campus. Particularly
Engineering, Commerce and Chemistry could hardly have gone on without them. In addition, three of
the temporaries at Breese Terrace and University were made into a student cafeteria to serve the
increasing number of students at that end of the campus. The campus had become so large and classes
so scattered that the traditional ten minute period between classes was extended to fifteen to allow
enough travel time.
Within four years after they were erected, the temporaries began to disappear. As permanent
buildings were constructed the temporaries began to be demolished. Among the first were T-20 in the
way of the state diagnostic center, and T-8 through T-1 1 behind Bascom, torn down for the construc-
tion of the new Commerce building. In the early 1950s nearly every new building project involved the
removal of some temporaries. By 1957 they had dwindled to seven. The Breese Terrace cafeteria
burned in 1968. Because Union South was in the planning stage, this loss was not severe. Periodic
exposes regarding the increasingly permanent temporaries appeared in the newspapers throughout the
Still, a site with sidewalks, roads and utilities installed is not a thing to be lightly discarded,
and some of them were not. T-16 in front of bacteriology housed the ROTC departments as late as
1968. A few more remain in use even today. T-21, the remains of the cafeteria damaged by fire, still
house engineering student organizations at Breese Terrace and University as does T-23. The union
food service uses T-22 as storage at the same site. T-24 just to the west of the mechanical engineer-
ing building has been resided, remodelled and connected to the mechanical engineering building; it is
now called General Engineering, and is no longer temporary. T-26 has retained its original use as
automotive research east of mining and metallurgy.
These buildings cannot, after nearly a half century of use, be regarded as temporary in any
sense other than the geologic. There are long range plans for an Engineering Center at the Breese
Terrace comer that will remove four of the remaining five temporaries. No one could have foreseen
the huge expansion of the campus that caused the old army barracks to be needed by another group
as fast as they were emptied. Ugly, cheap, and unloved, they helped the University survive a great
crisis. Their ongoing utility has enabled them to survive the century in which they were built.
1) Kenneth Little: Report of the Registrar to the regents, May 4, 1946.
2) Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, December 1946 p. 9
3) Regent's Minutes December 14, 1946
4) The locations of the 26 buildings were: TI -T3 at NE comer of Park and University, T4-T6 at NW comer of Park and
University, T7 behind Art Education, T8-T1 1 behind Bascom Hall, T12-T13 Charter and Linden, T14 north of Nurses
dorm, T 15-T 16 Babcock and Linden, T20 east of Naval ROTC, T2 I-T24 Breese Terrace and University, T25 east of
Mechanical Engineering, T26 south of Mining and Metallurgy.

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