Honor - SCUP Excellence in Landscape Architecture for Open Space Planning

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Extending Our History, Embracing Our Future
University of Wisconsin - Madison - Extending Our History, Embracing Our Future
Jury Comments
“ . . . very complete plan . . . they took their time to attend to landscape . . .”


    • Site – 936 acres
    • 4.5 miles of shoreline
    • The plan balances and connects the urban vitality of Madison with the natural beauty of Lake Mendota.
    • Outdoor gathering areas engage creek and future development.
    • The Effigy Mounds have been protected.
    • Perched wetland system captures Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and functions as willow creek watershed learning lab with boardwalks.
    • Streambanks have been regarded to support more plant species and reduce erosion.


The focus of this plan is on the campus outdoor spaces and the development of a new green infrastructure plan to help manage stormwater more effectively across campus. Over the years, the university’s landscape has slowly eroded through site-specific interventions that diminish the university’s sense of place. This plan sets out challenging goals for preserving, restoring, and enhancing the physical outdoor spaces. The focus is not on major building expansion and growth, but instead on a commitment to conservation, preservation, and sustainability of both the built and landscape environment.

The planning team spent over a year on technical analysis using GIS and various stormwater modeling programs to develop the most comprehensive watershed studies the university has ever completed. The campus-wide landscape framework and typology plans grounded recommendations within three place-based districts, each with a guiding goal for improved campus identity, open space, and connection. For each district, the planning team analyzed the impacts that proposed building, open space, parking, and roadway projects would have on the campus landscape and on future water quality. Green infrastructure sites were identified by targeting areas where multi-site runoff tributaries could be collected and treated to provide maximum benefits for every dollar spent. Then a menu of site-specific practices and their intended outcomes was assessed on a block-byblock basis across the entire campus.

Proposed green infrastructure improvements were integrated with the preservation and restoration of culturally and historically significant landscapes, providing a comprehensive guide for campus landscape improvements. Recommendations also promote landscape maintenance practices to enhance green infrastructure performance, including street sweeping, snow and leaf litter collection, and diversion and isolation of waste areas to keep campus runoff as clean as possible. The resulting plan updates the university’s stormwater standards to ensure all new development and construction projects contribute towards campus-wide sustainability and green infrastructure goals.

Project Team

SmithGroupJJR (Team Lead) + Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects; Kimley-Horn and Associates; Affiliated Engineers