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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Engineering building,   pp. 262-264

Page 262

Fig. 1. The Engineering Building
after the completion of the
Engineering Hall addition. [Del
Brown photo AP-80]
The engineering building was erected in several sections, with the first part built in
1948. Additions were built in 1952, 1962 and 1993.
The convergence of powerful forces produced the engineering building in 1948. First, the
enrollment in the university had reached 18,669 compared to 10,001 in 1930, the date of the
last permanent engineering construction. Secondly, an increasing proportion of the students
wanted to be engineers. Engineering enrollment went from 400 in 1900 when the Bascom Hill engi-
neering building was built, to 3400 in 1946. Even with the erection and occupation of several tempo-
rary buildings in 1946, to call the engineering facilities in 1948 overtaxed is being charitable.1
The 1945 state legislature appropriated $8 million of the $12 million requested by the regents
for postwar University construction. The regents formulated a priority list. At or near the top of this
list were a new library, an engineering building, a dairy building, and short-course dormitories. Nearly
everyone agreed that of these projects the most pressing was the library. It was initially believed that
the $8 million would build the library and engineering building. In order to give no one, especially the
legislature, the idea that the money was not needed, President E. B. Fred was insistent about begin-
ning to spend the construction appropriation immediately. With this intent, the building program
could not begin with the library because final plans were not finished. On the other hand, plans for the
engineering building were well advanced. Engineering Dean Withey proselytized everywhere, giving
speeches to engineering groups, interviews to magazines and newspapers. Industry was told that a
steady supply of engineering graduates would be good not only for their businesses but for the coun-
try, and for the University, since new facilities for engineering would release much classroom space
needed by other departments. The need for new engineering facilities and plans therefore were well
established by the time funds became available.2
The plans were the result of a planning group that began meeting in March 1945 as a subcom-
mittee of the campus planning commission. Two major issues were decided by this committee. First,
in December 1945 the site of the building was changed from the initially proposed University, Avenue
site to the "area adjacent to Randall Avenue, between Johnson and Dayton Streets extended". Second

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