8 Great Placemaking Ideas for the State Street Mall Renovation – Introduction to the Series

While current students may not remember a time when Library Mall was not under construction, the space is as central to the identity of the University of Wisconsin as the Memorial Union is and has an even longer history. The 700 – 800 blocks of State Street are the primary gateway between the UW-Madison and the heart of the city’s State Street commercial district. The City of Madison and the UW have been working to create design concepts and recommendations for the State Street Mall and adjacent Library Mall. The design team has done an admirable job of balancing a respect for history with a need to update the space for the 21st century. Exciting and creative design features can transform the space – which intersects with Library Mall, East Campus Mall, and Park Street – into a significant public gathering place for Madison’s students, residents and visitors. Equally important, the project’s design must take into account how the university community, residents, and visitors experience the space as they move through it to other destinations. 1000 Friends of Wisconsin has 8 ideas for the design team to consider to make sure that the newly redesigned space functions well, all year-long and for all people, as a public place.
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As the Project for Public Places has found, “successful public spaces have four key qualities: they are accessible; people are engaged in activities there; the space is comfortable and has a good image; and finally, it is a sociable place: one where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit.”

The Library Mall is culturally and historically important to the University of Wisconsin Madison and to the community. The Mall is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a portion of the Bascom Hill Historic District. All design features should highlight this cultural landscape.

All of our placemaking suggestions are intended to expand upon the exciting options suggested by the consultants and to create a successful public space, to recognize the Library Mall’s cultural and historical significance, and to conform to the core design principles of timelessness, flexibility, durability and ease of maintenance.

Check back every couple of days over the next 2 weeks as we reveal our 8 great placemaking ideas for the State Street and Library Malls!