article Featured Spring 2024

Saying Goodbye to 1410 Engineering Drive

After 85 years, 1410 Engineering Drive will soon be demolished and replaced by a state-of-the-art engineering building.

The UW-Madison College of Engineering announced in early 2024 their decision to demolish 1410 Engineering Drive, one of the oldest buildings on the engineering campus, this autumn. Over the upcoming summer, its occupants, including engineering research labs, Computer Aided Engineering, the college’s diversity and inclusion office, and engineering student orgs, will move out of the building. Students are eager to learn about plans for the lost space of 1410 and the new building that will replace it during this transition period. 

After a tumultuous journey to secure funding for a new engineering building, Governor Tony Evers approved the project on March 6th, 2024. At seven stories tall and nearly 400,000 square feet, the building will take the place of both 1410 Engineering Drive and a part of Engineering Mall. This project is set to be completed in 2028. 

The story of 1410 began in 1937, when the UW-Madison Board of Regents approved a 40-year lease for the soon to be constructed building to be used by the State Highway Commission. After completion in 1939, they used the new State Highway Lab to test materials and manufacture highway signs.  

The university reclaimed the building when the lease expired in 1977. It was initially large enough to house only computer engineering, but construction in 1993 expanded the north side of the building to add space for more offices and labs. No major changes have occurred since. 

In recent years, the college pushed for a new building to achieve its long-term goals of expanding enrollment and research capabilities of the College of Engineering.  

Dean of the College of Engineering, Ian Robertson, remarks, “we need to grow so that we remain competitive.”  

This is especially true as UW-Madison currently hosts one of the smallest engineering programs, in terms of enrollment, among midwestern public universities. Robertson believes that a higher enrollment will increase employment opportunities for engineering students because more companies will be inclined to recruit more from UW-Madison.  

With new classrooms and labs, the new building will expand the instructional and research capabilities of the college. Additionally, the top floor of the new building will have a dedicated industry space where companies will have lab space to do research with undergraduates. “They want to do research with us, and they recognize that we have an immense amount of talent and want to try and convince our students to work for them,” Robertson adds.

Wisconsin Engineering Student Council President, Caroline Craig, shares that students are highly supportive of a new engineering building. She notes that the top three requests of students from town hall meetings include “more tables with outlets for students to study at, flexible classrooms, and areas similar to the top floor of Wendt Commons.” Craig shares that this is likely to be incorporated in the new building since “the dean is very receptive to hearing student input and feedback on those types of topics.” 

Craig discusses the future plans for 1410 Engineering Drive.

The loss of 1410 will not come without inconvenience, as all residents must vacate the building by the end of the summer. Although the plans have yet to be finalized, Robertson states that the goal is to ensure “groups don’t have to move more than once, to minimize the overall impact.”  Most of the faculty with offices or labs in the building will likely relocate to other engineering buildings. Engineering student organizations with storage lockers in 1410 were invited to store their belongings at the Student Activity Center on East Campus Mall. 

The engineering campus is certain to be a bustling place for the next few years, as this will be the largest construction project in the college’s history. Although many are sad to see this historic building demolished, nothing takes away from the excitement for the new building and the massive increase in enrollment and research capabilities that it will bring.

 “All of us are going to be impacted by the demolition of 1410. Our campus is going to be an interesting place for a few years, but in the end, it will all be worth it.”

Dean Ian Robertson

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