(Re)Considering the Steenbock Center | wisconsinacademy.org
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(Re)Considering the Steenbock Center

The Steenbock Center, our home office at 1922 University Avenue in Madison, is the heart of Wisconsin Academy operations. This 1930s commercial building was purchased in 1973 as the first permanent home of the Academy. Funds for the purchase of the building and office furnishings came from gifts from biochemist and vitamin D researcher Harry Steenbock and microbiologist Elizabeth McCoy. Scientists and leaders in their respective fields, Steenbock and McCoy were Academy members who deeply believed in our multi-disciplinary approach to the issues and ideas of the day—and they deeply believed in having a home office in which our programs and publications could grow.
The Steenbock Center has many charms, and by and large has served the Academy well for over 40 years. However, as the building has aged our office needs have grown and the space has become increasingly more challenging to maintain. Buildings of this era often used asbestos-infused floor tiles and lead paint—and we’re no exception. Due to the relatively low cost of fuel during the 60s and 70s, our mechanicals (including an ancient furnace) and structural insulation were not designed for peak performance or efficiency. Even in the early 1970s, when some remodeling was undertaken for the Academy’s move into the building, electrical wiring wasn’t designed to anticipate handling the demands of a digital world. So much so, if you visit, we can’t make your coffee and use the microwave at the same time (unless we unplug our computers!). Deferred maintenance from periods of tight budgets has also left us with an extensive backlog of needed repairs, and the quirks of location, gravity, and plumbing contribute to periodic basement ponds.
From rotting wood around window sills to crumbling mortar and leaky pipes, the Steenbock Center needs a lot of work.
It's no secret that the building needs a major make-over, as does the driveway, parking area, and modest grounds. Our building committee and the Board of Directors has determined that given the condition of the building as well as the challenges of the location, and the projected costs of a major renovation, that our best option is to seek a new home for the office that can better serve our mission and expand programming opportunities.
As a result, we’ll be carefully considering our options in the year ahead, and exploring the feasibility of a capital campaign. We wanted to let our members know before we embark on an important transition such as this—especially for those of you who are fond of the Steenbock Center. We aren’t rushing out the door, but we are looking to a future in which our office and working space supports the health and vitality of our programs and staff alike. Ideally, we’d like to stay close to the UW-Madison campus, but we'd also like to be closer to our gallery in Overture Center for the Arts. If you know of sites that might be a good fit for our needs, feel free to send us suggestions.

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Wisconsin Academy Offices 
1922 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53726
Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
3rd Floor, Overture Center for the Arts
201 State Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.733.6633 x25