Memorial Union – University of Wisconsin-Madison


State of Wisconsin


Madison, Wisconsin


275,000 SF


Phase I, 2014 – Phase II, 2018

After generations of heavy use, the Union needed a major renovation to remedy outdated infrastructure systems, resolve accessibility issues, and expand student programming space, all while maintaining the building’s historic integrity and charm. The $52 million, 130,000 square foot Memorial Union project commenced in 2004 with Phase I of the first full-scale renovation since the building’s construction 75 years ago. Throughout the renovation and restoration of the historic Memorial Union, R/S was charged and dedicated to preserving the building’s historic and beloved features while carefully designing sensitive but impactful building additions and interior renovations.

In Phase I, the focus was the historic restoration and facility upgrades to the Union Theater and complete re-imagining of the Play Circle Theater. Other major features of the renovation included a new maker-space, game room, and Stiftskeller Bar.  The Wisconsin Union Director and Directorate offices expanded into new and renovated space on the fifth floor. The Union’s outdoor programs, known as “Hoofers” benefited from a building expansion that features a new large meeting room facing Lake Mendota, as well as improved space for their various clubs, boat storage, and boat repair shop. Work on the historic Union Terrace included the creation of a new Brat Stand.

In Phase II, major components included the renovation of the historic Rathskeller, Great Hall, Tripp Commons, Old Madison Room, The Union Club rooms, while creating 6 new food destinations on the first floor, and flexible meeting spaces on the upper levels.  The historic Union Terrace received outdoor food venues, as well as improvements to accessibility and serviceability. The landmark feature of the Phase II project was the creation of Alumni Park, a gift from the Wisconsin Alumni Association.  Alumni Park is open year-round and includes unique exhibits and stories of Wisconsin Alumni.

Phase II earned LEED Silver.

Designed in collaboration with Moody Nolan Architects.


  • Memorial Union
  • ACEC Wisconsin Engineering Excellence Award, Best of State
  • InBusiness Magazine Commercial Design Award, Project of the Year, Best New Development or Renovation-Mixed Use, Best Outdoor Landscaping Project
  • Daily Reporter’s Top Projects of 2018 Award
  • ASID Wisconsin Design Excellence Award, Historic Preservation – Bronze