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The New Union South

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

Re: The New Union South

Postby wallrock » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:12 pm

I was one of the few that spent a lot of time at Union South when I was a student and I liked it a lot back then. I've got a lot of great memories of shows at Club 770 and playing ping pong with friends in the basement. That said, after seeing the photos of the new building I'm very impressed and have no doubt that this is a vast improvement. I'm really looking forward to seeing my first show at the Sett in a couple weeks.

As for green space on campus, there are so many areas I don't even know where to start. A few of my between-class favorites: obviously Bascom Hill, the clearing at the top of trail through Muir Woods off Observatory, the lawns by the Botany Garden behind Birge Hall, the lawns between Van Hise and Human Ecology, anything over by the Lakeshore Dorms (I was in Schlicter), or the effigy mounds behind Ag Hall and the Observatory.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Bad Gradger » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:38 pm

Shorty wrote:Instead, I heard the open space East of the Nat will be reduced for a new dorm. The sand volleyball courts will be lost and tennis courts reduced.

They're doing an expansion of the Lakeshore dorms. It was part of the truce with Steve Brown that got the university to pitch in on U-Square.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby roadkill bill » Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:48 pm

Jeez, Shorty, you really are being inconsistent. I looked around the new Union South area, and I thought, "Wow. There's lots of nice little places outside to sit and eat/read/relax/chat with friends."

No, they aren't "green," as in full of grass that will be cool on your feet in the summertime. But except for that area around the fountains on between Memorial Library and the Historical Society, Memorial Union and Library Mall (the 700-800 blocks of State Street) don't have much grass either.

As several people have pointed out, Union South didn't have grass before, and Camp Randall and the Engineering Plaza are a frisbee throw away.

I am very impressed with both the Institutes of Discovery and the new Union South. Both will be major additions to the public spaces of that section of campus.

If you haven't been in the Inst of Discovery, check it out. You don't even need a UW log-on to use the internet, a major plus for those of us that no longer have an academic affiliation, but are looking for a place to get on-line without buying coffee. And there are all sorts of cool spaces there as well. Good food, places to sit, interesting things to discover, even an indoor garden.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Shorty » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:27 pm

roadkill bill wrote: I looked around the new Union South area, and I thought, "Wow. There's lots of nice little places outside to sit and eat/read/relax/chat with friends."

The only outside place I've seen to sit and relax is the main entrance with chairs over looking Wendt library. The location and scenery are almost exactly the same as before--mainly cement and the ugly Wendt library. The only addition is a small rock area with a waterfall.

Now, on to the restaurants. There are four:
1) The Sett - a grill for burgers, hot dogs, and chicken.
2) Urban Slice - pizza, daily pasta, strombolis, calzones, pastas and pre-made salads. The pizza is $2.25/slice.
3) Ginger Root - Asian (opens in Fall 11).
4) Harvest Grain - made-to-order sandwiches as well as soups and salads (opens in Fall 11).
Also, there is an ice cream shop like before.

Look familiar? It's pretty much the same food choices the old Union South had in the Red Oak Grill and Einstein's cafeteria but the quality looks better. So better burgers and pizza are all the new Union offers now because places 3 and 4 aren't opening until Fall 2011. I inquired why and was told because they are still planning the menu and due to budget problems. They have had two years to plan the menu, isn't that enough? Why is there a budget problem with Asian food, soups and salads?

I like healthy eating and comfort food so avoid burgers and hot dogs, don't care much for Asian food, and have enough pizza and pasta for my dinners. For lunch I prefer a fresh salad bar with good soups and fresh fruit, and a cafeteria with a variety of entrees. We may get some of that with the Harvest Grain place but it doesn't sound like there will be entree choices. For the students and staff on this part of campus I wish they had a good cafeteria with a good salad bar. The only food options in the area other than Union South are the Library girll, WID which just has a cafe and an expensive restaurant I haven't bothered trying because the menu didn't look good, and a million sub shops. So I give the new Union a poor grade for lack of good healthy food options.

Here are my initial impressions so far:
-Building: grade A. It's nice looking inside and outside and has a lot of entertainment options. Marquee theater, large dance hall, Sett stage, bowling alley, etc. The meeting rooms look nice.
-Restaurants: grade C-. Only two options now are a burger grill and pizza but they are better quality than before. Much need a good cafeteria with fresh salad bar and fruit.
-Outside area and Green space: Grade F. It's just cement. Very little character or scenery especially compared to Memorial Union. They could tear down Wendt library and replace it with green space but then people would be exposed to the noise and traffic from Randall Ave and Dayton St. Or how about green space in the area between Union South and the Comp Sci bldng?
-Art studio and decor: Grade C. I only saw one art studio and it was just showing a video with loud noise. Perhaps better exhibits will come. I didn't seen any photo gallery like Mem union has. The Union South walls seemed mostly bare to me except for some some large screen tv's that just show photos and seem to have no other function. I haven't seen any clocks in there yet which would be more useful.
-Parking/transportation. I'm not sure yet but probably C or worse. There is underground parking I haven't tried yet but I suspect it will be crowded or mostly permit only. It was nice when the 80 campus bus stopped right in front of Union South. People could wait inside during bad weather. Now the only bus service is the 85 bus which doesn't come as often and stops across a busy street.

In summary, very nice building plopped in the middle of a drab cement jungle. It has a lot to offer inside except good food. Have the designers ever heard of landscape architecture and health food?

http://www.union.wisc.edu/visit-unionsouth.htm
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Cory Schmidt » Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:44 am

I went last night for the first time. Maybe I had expectations that were too high but I have to say that I was not blown away by it and, in fact, I'm not sure I really like it. It definitely is more inviting than the old Union but it still doesn't have much character. Aside from the terrace chairs outside it doesn't have anything that let's you know you are in a UW building. It had the feel of a large impersonal hotel lobby to me - lots of earth tones, soft lighting and soft chairs. It really is a building that could be anywhere and feels very much like any other new building. In my opinion a Union should be unique to the school it represents. This one isn't

The area that serves beer was closed for a special function so we were only able to briefly walk through. It felt kind of like the Great Dane in Fitchburg to me. The other food areas that served pizza slices, sandwiches, small salads, etc. had an almost airport feel to them. I know that the Union isn't meant as a dining destination but I was expecting better. The ice cream stand is inexplicably tiny and there really is no good place to line up for it. It wasn't very busy last night but even with a line of about 8 people we were crammed together and still getting in the way of people just trying to walk through the Union. That area is going to be a crowded mess much of the time.

The outside area will be very accommodating before football games. There's a LOT more room for people to watch the band. Two upper levels will allow people to actually see the band as well rather than just cramming in a big group like at the old Union. The patio area has metal tables and chairs on the ground level and terrace chairs/tables on the upper two levels. There's a waterfall and small river type fountain to the left and a small strip of grass but other than that the area is all cement. They cut down every tree that was there. This will allow better views of the band on football Saturdays but makes for an unappealing and harsh area to sit anytime else.


overall it's a nice addition to that part of campus (mostly just because it is better than the dump it replaces) but it isn't someplace I will be seeking out. Memorial Union is still the Union to go to in my opinion.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Shorty » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:08 am

Well said. No longer having trees near the patios and pavilions means no shade to sit and enjoy during the warm sunny season from May-Sept. People will bake in their chairs on the concrete slabs. Memorial Union Terrace has nice shade trees and a lake breeze so that is where people will be.

I thought the 4/21 Isthmus cover story about Union South was too kind and generous. It made little or no mention of the bland surroundings, lack of green space, food selection and quality, parking options and cost, and elimination of curb side 80 bus service.
Last edited by Shorty on Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Bad Gradger » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:01 pm

In 30 years the new Union South will be as bland and forgettable as the old one was, at which time the students will have conveniently just finished paying this one off. One doesn't advance one's career in university student affairs by being content with what's there.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby rabble » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:38 pm

I agree the ground level seating is going to be pretty stifling in July and the view isn't all that great. The second floor seating is much better. There's a little tree in that itty bitty green space by the waterfall but it's probably never going to give shade.

But I've only just now realized what my main complaint is. No breakfast except baked goods. You can't get a fried egg anywhere.

And don't tell me that stuff they put in the breakfast sandwiches at the sub shop is a fried egg.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Shorty » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:03 pm

Right no breakfast there. And now I see the nice green space in front of the Kohl center is going away for a new indoor hockey rink. That was a nice area for college students to relax, sun bathe and play Frisbee: https://fpm-www3.fpm.wisc.edu/cpd/Curre ... fault.aspx

And the green space near the Lake Shore dorms is shrinking for more dorms:
https://fpm-www3.fpm.wisc.edu/cpd/Curre ... fault.aspx
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Cory Schmidt » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:13 pm

Shorty wrote:Right no breakfast there. And now I see the nice green space in front of the Kohl center is going away for a new indoor hockey rink. That was a nice area for college students to relax, sun bathe and play Frisbee: https://fpm-www3.fpm.wisc.edu/cpd/Curre ... fault.aspx

And the green space near the Lake Shore dorms is shrinking for more dorms:
https://fpm-www3.fpm.wisc.edu/cpd/Curre ... fault.aspx


It looks like that hockey addition is actually to the side of the Kohl Center kind of behind the SERF, not in front of it.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Stebben84 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:35 pm

Cory Schmidt wrote:It looks like that hockey addition is actually to the side of the Kohl Center kind of behind the SERF, not in front of it.


That's what it looks like. They would never block the architecture of the Kohl center for a shitty hockey rink.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Shorty » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:21 am

Glad to hear it.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Shorty » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:21 pm

Good review here:

Union South: Not student friendly
http://badgerherald.com/oped/2012/11/20 ... t_stud.php

"Have you ever tried eating there? Your options are: over-priced greasy food from The Sett, over-priced moderately healthy food from Harvest Grains, pizza drowned in grease from Urban Slice or, probably your safest bet, Ginger Root. Except Ginger Root is only open three hours a day, so if you’ve got class during lunch time, tough luck. And while Harvest Grains is probably your healthiest option, the times I’ve gotten a soup or the macaroni and cheese side from there, it was pretty evident they probably put more butter in them than any human should consume in a day."
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Re: The New Union South

Postby narcoleptish » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:18 am

Shorty wrote:
-Outside area and Green space: Grade F. It's just cement. Very little character or scenery especially compared to Memorial Union.


Were they supposed to build a fucking lake and bring in some full grown trees?

I mean, what the fuck do you people expect. It's a beautiful building packed with cool furniture, apple computers, amenities galore and all the scenery any college kid could want.
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Re: The New Union South

Postby Stebben84 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:41 am

narcoleptish wrote:Were they supposed to build a fucking lake and bring in some full grown trees?


It's the Badger Herald. What do you expect from a shitty college newspaper.
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