When Carroll University's provost told faculty members that the school would be razing and replacing Lowry Hall with a new nursing center, the announcement was met with applause, a university representative said.

City officials didn't clap during a plan commission meeting on April 13, when the nursing center was discussed, but the sentiment was generally the same. Commissioners unanimously approved the preliminary site and architectural plans for the new building, which is part of Carroll's three-phase, multiyear, $50 million campaign to improve its science facilities.

City Planner Doug Koehler presented plans for the building to the commission. He said city staff had made some recommendations about potential landscaping to BWBR Architects, which is designing the building, and encouraged Carroll to pursue including a rooftop terrace in the project.

The current 21,000-square-foot Lowry Hall building was built in 1949. Ron Lostetter, Carroll's vice president of finance and administrative services, said the university considered renovating Lowry Hall, but due to the building's age such renovations would not have been able to meet the "programmatic needs" of the school.

"This (new building) will be a huge addition," said Lostetter, who noted the applause by Carroll faculty marking their approval of the project.

New building specs

The new 36,000-square-foot Lowry Hall building will house lab and classroom space that will serve the nursing, physics/engineering and exercise science programs as well as other academic classroom needs for students and faculty.

It is designed with two floors above grade, a partially exposed lower level, a glass atrium and a screened rooftop enclosure that houses mechanical equipment. Retaining walls with landscaping would accommodate a grade change at the loading area/driveway adjacent to Barstow Street.

A terrace or garden is also being planned for a portion of the roof, budget permitting. New sidewalks, an entry plaza and a handicap-accessible building entry compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards are part of the proposal.

The building, which if constructed will be 13 feet taller than the existing structure, would be built in a single phase, according to plans submitted to the city. Pending final approval, construction is expected to begin this summer, following Carroll's May commencement ceremony.

Ongoing construction

The school is already in the midst of constructing another new building at the corner of North Barstow Street and West College Avenue.

That building, a $24 million, 44,500-square-foot state-of-the-art science center, is in the final stages of construction and will connect to the new Lowry building on all floors through the 12,000-square-foot Bucyrus Center for Applied Physics and Engineering. An elevator that's being installed in the science building will also serve the nursing center.

The new science center will house interactive teaching and research laboratories for anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry and biochemistry, along with student and faculty gathering areas.

Alderwoman Joan Francoeur, who presided over the plan commission meeting in Mayor Shawn Reilly's absence, expressed planners' satisfaction with details of the proposal and Carroll's ongoing renovation efforts.

"We're very happy to have all of these expansions and refurbishings coming to the city," Francoeur said, referencing the new Lowry Hall building and other items on the commission's agenda.

"It just makes (Waukesha) a wonderful place to live and to work and to play."

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