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Van Hise Hall, a lofty campus landmark since 1967, is slated for destruction sometime in the next 20 years under UW-Madison's proposed master plan for the next two decades.

Not that anyone should be surprised, officials said.

"We've talked for many years about the need to replace Van Hise," said Gary Brown, director of UW-Madison's office of planning and landscape architecture. "To really try to retrofit it and get the proper (heating and air-conditioning) system and proper fire protection was just going to cost too much. Everybody's known that, and now we've finally said it."

But it's not going to happen overnight, either. Brown said the demolition of Van Hise, which stands 19 stories tall and serves as the main meeting place for the UW Board of Regents, probably won't happen for 10 to 15 years.

More immediately, a large portion of Observatory Drive will be shut down for a utility extension project starting this summer, from Walnut Street to Babcock Drive, Brown said. It should reopen by winter, but while it's closed the university will provide a Web site with detailed information about available detours.

The utility project involves laying lines to connect heating and cooling pipes in the central campus with the new Walnut Street cogeneration plant.

Another element of the proposed plan, which is up for approval this fall after a series of public meetings, involves the replacement of Union South with a new building. More details about all of the planned projects are available at

\ Contact Karen Rivedal at or 252-6106.

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