Wowed by Wittich
Renovation of the campus' second oldest building is impressive.
A transition from old to new
Posted 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021
The outside looks familiar, complete with an edifice facelift and updated doors and windows.
Inside, you’ll find familiar remnants throughout a completely re-designed, modern academic building.
The $25 million renovation of Wittich Hall, the original physical education building on campus, was completed this summer and reopened for fall classes. Its new occupants: the College of Business Administration, including the Small Business Development Center.
Wittich would be very happy to see the results of the restoration of the sky lights in the roof, walking track and other historic aspects of the building.
Prior to the re-do the building looked very familiar to its 1916 original opening. It now incorporates a 21st century pizazz appealing to faculty, staff and students.
UWL Professor Emeritus AB Culver, a 1967 UWL master’s degree graduate who completed her thesis on Walter Wittich, for whom the building was named, believes he would approve of the renovation.
“[Wittich] would be very happy to see the results of the restoration of the sky lights in the roof, walking track and other historic aspects of the building,” says Culver. “He would be honored to see how much care and effort has been going into keeping Wittich Hall visible and relevant in the future of UW-La Crosse.”
Take a virtual tour with CBA Dean T. J. Brooks
Wittich Hall, originally known as the Physical Education Building, was the second building constructed on campus. Standing near the center of campus, it remains one of three structures from the campus’s early history, the others being Graff Main and Morris halls.
Wittich Hall, deemed one of the best buildings in the country for physical education when first constructed, remained a facility for athletics, physical education and recreation until its recent remodel. Throughout its history, the building as a whole had not been modified but remained in relatively good condition. Its suspended running track, gymnasiums, and overall architectural fabric remained intact. These hallmarks have now been refurbished into the new structure.
Designed by the La Crosse firm Parkinson & Dockendorf, Wittich Hall is a three-story edifice in the Collegiate Gothic style. The rectilinear building with tall massings has a unique fenestration pattern of single, double and quadruple window units allowing natural light inside. The overall design employs a columnar motif of base-shaft-capital for vertical organization. Its detailing features of pointed arches, low-relief carved heraldic shields, a parapet, buttresses, crenellation, tall, narrow windows, light-colored limestone dressings, and carved Gothic lettering above entrances are all characteristics of the Collegiate Gothic style.
Images Courtesy of Murphy Library Special Collections, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse