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Burrowed in the bluff

Boldt meets challenges of unusual site

Photos by Michael Leschisin/Image Studios

Photos by Michael Leschisin/Image Studios

Building a $32 million structure into a bluff over the Fox River was not the ideal choice for crews constructing Lawrence University’s Warch Campus Center, but with limited space on the Appleton campus, there were no other options.

“(The university) wanted a nice view of the river, and the campus doesn’t have a lot of other space to expand,” said Eric Swanlund, project manager at The Boldt Co., Appleton. “We had to make it work.”

Once the picturesque spot was chosen, burrowing deep into the land began, he said.

“We had to dig over 50 feet down at some of the deepest points,” Swanlund said.

The site was close to an existing residence hall, so contractors used soil nails and concrete encasement to support the foundation of the adjacent building. An earth-retention system further reinforced the sloped site.

Further complicating the project was a 60-inch sewer line for the city within 6 feet of the footings. The building was built on caissons drilled down to the bedrock to eliminate risk to the sewer line and to maintain city access.

Working with the city of Appleton and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Swanlund said, the project team built sediment ditches and ponds to detour water from the site before it reached the river below.

Because the building site went into the bluff, with restrictions on both sides, there was no space for supplies and equipment, he said. Carefully timed delivery of materials was required to accommodate the lack of space.

“We had virtually no lay-down area,” Swanlund said. “We had to receive everything just in time.”

The five-story building includes three levels that are below grade and two above. A land bridge was completed with the building to provide pedestrian access to the center from either the residential or academic side of campus.

Swanlund said the result is a building that fits well into the campus and offers wonderful views of the river.

“You can look out the glass windows,” he said, “and have eagles flying right by.”

Lawrence University – Warch Campus Center
Location: Appleton

Submitting companies: The Boldt Co., Appleton; Uihlein/Wilson Architects Inc., Milwaukee

General Contractor/Construction Manager: The Boldt Co.

Architects: KSS Architects LLP, Princeton, N.J.; Uihlein/Wilson Architects Inc.

Engineer: Fredericksen Engineering Inc., Mequon (HVAC); Graef-USA Inc., Milwaukee (structural, civil, electrical, plumbing)

Owner: Lawrence University, Appleton

Project size: 107,000 square feet

Project cost: $32 million

Start date: March 2007

Completion date: August 2009

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