A Chair of a Different Color

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terrace

Bryce Richter photo.

Among UW students and alumni, there are few things more familiar and loaded with memories than the Terrace chair.

But visitors to the campus’s living room couldn’t be blamed for doing a double take this spring and summer when they encountered an unfamiliar version of the coveted and iconic piece of furniture perched at the shore of Lake Mendota. In late April, three hundred chairs in a vivid shade of blue joined the classic orange, green, and yellow ones on the Terrace in a nostalgia-driven effort to raise money for Memorial Union renovations.

The blue chairs exited the Terrace on August 31, marking the launch of the Wisconsin Union’s three-year campaign to raise $25 million for a comprehensive restoration of the historic building. Memorial Union welcomes more than 5 million visitors each year, but its infrastructure is outdated. Aging pipes have failed and damaged the building, several entrances and rooms are inaccessible to those who can’t climb stairs, and meeting spaces do not fit the needs of twenty-first-century students.

The first phase of work, which began this summer, focuses on updating the building’s west wing, including treasured spaces such as the Wisconsin Union Theater and Hoofers facilities.

Where did the limited-edition blue chairs end up? Ownership was transferred to those who gave $1,000 or more to the fundraising campaign, allowing them to take a little piece of the Terrace home.

Published in the Fall 2012 issue

Tags: Alumni, Campus history, Student life

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