Campus Framework (Master) Plan

Established in 1848, the University of Wisconsin – Madison is one of the country’s first land-grant universities, currently serving over 43,000 students and 21,000 faculty and staff. The main campus is comprised of over 939 acres of picturesque grounds along nearly 4.5 miles of Lake Mendota shoreline in Madison, Wisconsin. Approximately 300 acres of the main campus are defined as the Lakeshore Nature Preserve and are protected from development.  The university is located in Dane County, less than a mile from the state Capitol.  Inland lakes create a narrow isthmus where concentrated development patterns exist within a scenic setting.

This spectacular lakefront setting is its greatest physical asset.  The natural areas, historic landscapes, and public spaces are the places that create astounding first impressions and lasting memories for those who visit, work, educate, and learn at this institution.

The 1850 campus plan, attributed to Architect John Rague and the university’s first chancellor, John H. Lathrop, proposed situating the campus on Madison’s “second hill”, facing the nearby state capital building which was located on the “first hill.”  The hills overlook the city of Madison surrounded by beautiful lakes and natural areas, created by the glaciers some 15,000 years ago.  The effigy mound, so prevalent on this campus and throughout the upper Midwest, also occurred over 1,000 years ago.  These relationships have served as a structure for the physical development of the campus landscape for over the last 150 years.

Sign up for 2025 Campus Framework Plan Notifications

Send an email to get on the notification list:

2015 Campus Master Plan

Every 10 years, Facilities Planning & Management works with a team of planning consultants and the university community to update the university’s Campus Master Plan. The Master Plan Update will serve as a tool to help establish a continuing framework to guide the orderly growth and development of the campus while protecting and enhancing important open spaces as well as historic and cultural landscapes. The Campus Master Plan is consistent with and supports the university’s current mission, vision and strategic plan.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

2015 Campus Master Plan Executive Summary

The 2015 Campus Master Plan Executive Summary is a full color 24-page report that summarizes the major goals and guiding principles for the Master Plan.  The document includes the Chancellor’s vision and the major goals and initiatives for each of the identified focus topics.  The Executive Summary also welcomes and sets the tone for users and viewers of the Master Plan document.  It is both a marketing piece for the future development and a summary of the master planning process.

Master Plan Technical Report

The 2015 Campus Master Plan Update: Technical Report is the unabridged thought and support behind the goals and guiding principles for the Master Plan. This more than 250-page document presents a roadmap for campus development over the next 30-50 years by referencing what has come previously and embracing what the future holds. Together with the Campus Design Guidelines, the Technical Document strives to give physical form to the university’s mission, vision, and programs through the effective use of human, environmental and fiscal resources.

Landscape Master Plan

The 2015 Campus Master Plan Update: Landscape Master Plan establishes the vision for the campus landscape at the UW–Madison. As a major component of the 2015 update to the 2005 Campus Master Plan, this serves as the first landscape master plan for the university, marking a significant milestone in its history. Focused on fully using the spaces between the buildings, the plan determines an overall vision for growth of the campus landscape. Most importantly, this plan creates a framework of guiding principles for landscape architects and planners to ensure the cohesive integration of future expansion projects.

Utility Master Plan

The 2015 Campus Master Plan Update: Utility Master Plan report is an update to the 2005 plan and includes information regarding the existing utility distribution systems as well as recommendations as to how the campus utilities should be modified and expanded to accommodate the proposed ultimate campus build-out.  The update specifically targeted the infrastructure of steam, chilled water, electrical power, and renewable energy in the context of the sanitary and domestic water analysis and recommendations.  It is critical that all proposed  utility infrastructure recommendations relate back to the future development phasing schedules to ensure capacity and physical space availability.

Long Range Transportation Plan

The 2015 Campus Master Plan Update: Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) has been developed as an update to the 2005 plan. It both responds to and helps shape the overall development plan for the campus over the next 20 years and beyond. It is the university’s transportation vision and describes baseline conditions, travel behaviors, and trends for all modes.  The vast majority of recommendations called for in this plan are strategies designed to make travel without a motor vehicle safer and more convenient.

Green Infrastructure & Stormwater Management Master Plan

The 2015 Campus Master Plan Update: Green Infrastructure & Stormwater Management Master Plan offers both opportunities for enhancing green infrastructure and challenges as the campus continues to densify and space for stormwater management is balanced with other programmatic needs.  UW–Madison is not only a leader in sustainable stormwater practices, having implemented dozens of progressive practices from green roofs to wetlands throughout the 938-acre campus. However, increased sustainability awareness by students, faculty, staff, and the general public, as well as a more stringent regulatory climate, offer opportunities for UW–Madison to step up and be even more aggressive in greening its facilities.

Campus Design Guidelines & Standards

The Campus Design Guidelines & Standards are a site specific framework that has been established to create the ground rules for a fruitful dialogue between planners, architects, engineers, campus community, and city/state authorities. Divided into nine Campus Design Neighborhoods, the goal of the guidelines is to enhance the university’s sense of place by creating well-defined, functional, sustainable, beautiful and coherent campus environments that promote intellectual and social exchange.