‘This building is the next 100’ years

The Screaming Eagles Marching Band played during the Centennial Hall dedication on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

UW-La Crosse’s Centennial Hall was dedicated on Wednesday, Aug. 31 after UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow’s annual All University Address.

On Sept. 6 students will fill the 5,000 seats of the new academic building, marking the start of school and a new era of education at UW-L.

“Graff Main Hall was the first 100 years of UW-L,” says Gow. “This building is the next 100.”

Centennial Hall is the largest academic building on campus and the first building built predominantly with state funding since 1974. The 189,000-square-foot building fills a need for classroom space while offering advanced technology, flexible seating and a sustainable design.

The building holds 44 classrooms, two auditoriums and 11 departments. A large, open entryway in the building opens up to the Hall of Nations. The room will hold flags from 44 countries, representing the diversity of UW-L’s international students.

“It’s a reminder that the university has a global reach,” says Gow.

Modern furnishings, carpets, and other interior design elements were selected by a committee of UW-L students, faculty and staff who toured other institutions to find a style that would fit Centennial Hall.

Outside of the facility, rain gardens capture rainfall from the roof to divert it from the storm sewer system and allow it to soak into groundwater. Solar panels on the roof soak up the sun’s rays to heat the water in the building. Natural light fills 90 percent of the building’s spaces, which greatly reduces the amount of artificial light needed. These concepts and others contribute to the sustainable design of the building — built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating.

The water heating system and LEED certification were funded by student funds earned in profits from campus vending machines. “I look at those panels and think that’s something our students made happen,” says Gow. “They were very forward looking.”

The building cost $40 million, $37 of which came from the state and $3 million raised by the UW-L Foundation. The Foundation recently completed its fundraising campaign for the building.

“It’s a symbol of the great generosity of our donors and the success of the campus, the community and our alumni in supporting a fantastic project,” says Al Trapp, president of the UW-L Foundation. “In particular, the support from the campus was extraordinary and critical to the success of our fundraising.”

Although the Centennial Campaign ended June 30, naming opportunities are still available for the Centennial Hall building, including classrooms, conference rooms and study rooms, says Trapp.