Honor - SCUP Excellence in Landscape Architecture for Open Space Planning

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Alumni Park: Connecting Campus, Community and Legacy
University of Wisconsin - Madison - Alumni Park: Connecting Campus, Community and Legacy
Jury Comments
“. . . very heroic effort on their part to recognize the need to push down the service elements and open up the view corridor and the pedestrian corridor . . . problematic drivers and expense undertaken to achieve those problematic drivers was exceptional . . . great sense of place and termination of important campus organizing space with challenging service integration . . .”


    • Site – 1.3 acres
    • LEED Silver
    • The park was funded entirely by private alumni donations.
    • Alumni Park, with its sweeping views of Lake Mendota, completes the over 110-year vision for the historic lower campus and the East Campus pedestrian/bicycle mall as a gateway to the campus from the community at large.
    • The park’s design integrates over 50 exhibits that celebrate the achievements of over 120 alumni.
    • The visitor experience starts at the Welcome Plaza’s sculptural fountain, crafted from a single piece of stone.
    • The central walk Alumni Way includes five 18-foot-long stone and enamel exhibit panels highlighting themes of service, discovery, tradition, leadership, and progress.
    • In addition to serving UW students, faculty and alumni, Alumni Park also serves as an accessible public open space for the Madison community.


While the Memorial Union’s lakefront Terrace has long served as Madison’s most popular and iconic public waterfront space, the shoreline infrastructure was showing its age, and physical and visual connection to the water were interrupted by parking and delivery logistics. Alumni Park helped fulfill the promise of UW’s lakefront gateway, connecting campus and community along a seven-block East Campus corridor flowing directly to the water. The distinctive architectural character of the Red Gym, the visitor experience of the Memorial Union, and views to and from the lake have been greatly enhanced.

The park’s design and construction needed to be fully integrated with improvements to the adjacent Memorial Union, Terrace, and shoreline. To facilitate close coordination between these concurrent projects, the planning team adopted a shared Building Information Modeling program. This comprehensive 3D model provided a seamless transition to construction documentation, along with invaluable virtual-reality review sessions that immersed decision-makers and funders in the overall design.

Embodying the university’s mission of social impact and service was a core principal of the design program. The park’s design reflects this mission throughout, literally and symbolically. Starting with the ripple-like waves emanating from the entrance fountain, the design expresses the ripple effect that UW alumni achievements have had on the world. The updatable panel design allows for new ripples of the Wisconsin Idea to be added moving forward. Alumni Park is a campus space of unique intent and transformative impact. Its design realized a century-long vision for UW-Madison, creating a signature destination commemorating 170 years of alumni accomplishments.

Project Team

SmithGroup; also FRS Design Group, LLC; Arnold and O’Sheridan, Inc.; Fountain Technologies LTD; Uihlein Wilson Ramlow Stein; Mead and Hunt; Ralph Applebaum Associates; Graef