UW-Oshkosh New Academic Building

Project Number: #05I3N

Art Budget: $94,000 (Expected to cover all design and fabrication expenses associated with the project.)

Application/Image Deadline: Deadline has passed; for reference only

Eligibility Criteria: All artists from Arts Midwest region are eligible to apply 

(Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin)

Art Schedule

Design Due: Spring 2010

Installation: TBD, Depending on location of artwork within building/site, installation will likely be toward the latter stages of construction, spring or summer of 2011.

Building Construction Start: Fall 2009

Building Completion: Summer 2011

Architects: Berners Schober Associates, Green Bay in association with VOA Architects, Chicago; Landscape Design consultant—Ken Saiki Design, Madison WI


The Campus

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is both a major undergraduate and a regional graduate campus within the University of Wisconsin System. The UW-Oshkosh has a long and distinguished academic history, originating as Oshkosh Normal School in 1871. The UW-Oshkosh campus is located in the city of Oshkosh in the heart of the Fox River Valley, a thriving business, manufacturing, and cultural center. Situated in the near northwest section of the city, the modern campus of more than 35 buildings is arranged along a central mall and boulevard and bordered on the west by the Fox River.

The New Academic Building

The new 187,000 s.f. Academic Building project will consolidate into a single facility the instructional, academic support, and community service development programs for the 2,100-student College of Business Administration and the 5,900-student College of Letters and Sciences and its social science departments. These include environmental studies program, the geography and urban planning program, the history department, the international studies program; the journalism department, the sociology department, the women’s studies program, the African American studies program and the social justice program. The building will contain general access classrooms, computer labs, laboratories, meeting spaces and offices for faculty and departments and support spaces and will serve students and faculty from all four colleges on campus. The building will be 55 percent instructional space, 30 percent offices, 3 percent research space with an additional 3 percent library/study space, and 5 percent meeting/lounge space.

As part of the University’s goal to provide leadership in sustainability, a green approach was a high priority in the design of this facility. The academic building is designed as a high-performance building that will be certified at a minimum of a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver rating. To meet this goal, the design incorporates solar thermal collectors on the roof, radiant heating and cooling in the floor slabs and deep light shelves to maximize natural lighting. Local, renewable and recycled materials are used wherever possible and storm water will be managed on site.

The building is comprised of a one-story lecture hall wing on the north and a four-story classroom and office wing to the south. The four-story portion is organized around an interior courtyard to maximize day-lighting to all occupied spaces.

The public entry and circulation spaces will have a higher level of finish than public spaces elsewhere in the building, with ceramic tile or terrazzo floors, burnished concrete block walls. The entrance lobby will have decorative pendant lighting and bamboo wall paneling. Other public corridors will have burnished block walls with vinyl floor tile, ceramic tile or terrazzo flooring. The building exterior material will be brick with cast stone wall panels, sills, and lintels. Some of the cast stone panels have a decorative pattern with images of sunflowers, alluding to the building’s solar orientation and heating. There will also be aluminum-framed windows and limited curtain wall and storefront glazing. 


The Site​​

This project will construct the first new academic building facility on the campus in over thirty five years and occupies a highly visible site. The building site is relatively flat and is bordered by an industrial building and parking lot across Rockwell Avenue to the north, by Frederick R. Clow Hall (classroom and office building) across High Avenue to the east, a parking lot and Kolf Physical Education Center on the south, and an electrical substation and the Fox River across Pearl Avenue to the west. The building site affords views to the Fox River to the west from windows located higher than the trees.

The building is sited to conform to the long-range campus master plan prepared by Ken Saiki Design, Inc. In the future, Pearl Avenue will be redeveloped into a two-way, four-lane automobile boulevard that will re-route auto traffic around the west side of the campus and the project site, and turn the one-way, multi-lane existing High Avenue into a two-way, two-lane, tree-lined interior service road. The configuration of the roads to the north of the project site will create a substantial triangle of land that will serve as the northern gateway to the campus.

The main entrance to the new facility is on High Street facing the main campus to the east. This entrance features an entry court/gathering space inviting visitors and students inward toward the building’s lobby and interior courtyard, visible beyond. The 72' x 116' interior courtyard, completely enclosed by the building but open to the elements, will be landscaped and is expected to be heavily used for formal and informal gatherings. The College of Business Administration will have its own separate, drive-up entrance prominently facing south, welcoming community business visitors. 


Specifications For Art

The primary audience for interior artwork will be students, faculty, and community members. Exterior artwork will be viewed by the larger University and Oshkosh community audience.


Potential Locations

The selection committee has identified locations on both the interior and exterior of the facility and is also open to additional sites that may be identified by the artists.

Exterior sites may include:

  1. The building main entrance forecourt area facing east. [ floor plan ] [ image ]
  2. The green space area at the corner of High and Rockwell Streets. [ floor plan ]
  3. The south entrance area (College of Business Administration entrance) and the bio-retention swale area which will be planted with sedges and irises. Please be aware that artwork cannot compromise the storm water functions of this area. 
  4. [ floor plan ]
  5. The interior/exterior courtyard at the center of the building. Open to the elements, this location will serve as a warm weather gathering spot. Snow removal will not occur in the courtyard space. [ floor plan ] [ image ]
  6. The south corner of Rothwell and Pearl Streets will not be considered for siting artwork because of future reconfiguration of Pearl Avenue (per campus master plan). [ floor plan ]

Interior sites may include:

  1. Artwork that visually connects the main entrance at High Avenue, through the lobby to, or into the interior/exterior courtyard. [ floor plan ] [ image ]

Conceptual Considerations

The selection committee is interested in artwork that supports the green focus of this facility and that invites people into the building. The primary audience for interior artwork will be students, faculty, and community members. Exterior artwork will be viewed by the larger University and Oshkosh community audience. Imagery with multiple layers of metaphoric meaning would be viewed as strength. The committee is interested in artwork that:

  • Demonstrates a relationship between the inside and outside of the facility.
  • Supports the building’s “green” or sustainability theme by creating awareness of or is symbolic of ideas/concepts related to environmental/energy conservation issues.
  • Invites a connection between the campus and the larger Oshkosh community.
  • Utilizes the seasonal or daily light changes in the environment, such as the seasonal solstices or shadows.
  • Has a strong intellectual and poetic dimension.
  • Is timeless and bears repeated viewing over time.
  • May be nonrepresentational, but not so abstract as to be unrecognizable by faculty & students.
  • Serves as an ambassador—the artwork needs to be appealing and accessible to non-arts people.
  • Is complex enough to allow viewers to learn from it over time and provides a sense of discovery.


The selection committee is interested in durable, permanent materials that support the artist’s concept and require minimal maintenance. The selection committee is open to the use of technology and renewable energy. Artwork that utilizes electrical power should plan to use a naturally generated power source. Regionally derived natural materials and/or materials that support the green focus of the facility would be very appropriate for this project. The selection committee is also interested in the innovative use of color and light. Exterior artworks may be integrated into the landscape.