Lawrence University leaders and students are joined by Trout Museum of Art, Boldt, and community leaders in breaking ground for a new building in the 300 block of E. College Avenue.
Lawrence University leaders and students are joined March 7 by Trout Museum of Art, Boldt, and city officials in breaking ground for a new building in the 300 block of E. College Avenue. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Thursday for a new building in the 300 block of E. College Avenue, marking a pivotal moment in a partnership that will support innovative new academic spaces for Lawrence University, provide a new home for the Trout Museum of Art (TMA), and foster exciting opportunities for career and community collaboration.

Leaders from Lawrence, TMA, and the City of Appleton addressed more than 200 people gathered on the site where the four-story building will rise over the next 18 months. Before putting shovels in the dirt, they spoke to the ways this project will bolster the futures of the university, the nonprofit art museum, downtown Appleton, and the greater Fox Valley region.

Lawrence University President Laurie A. Carter speaks at the podium during the groundbreaking ceremony. The Lawrence Arch is in the background across Drew Street.
Lawrence University President Laurie A. Carter addresses attendees at the March 7 groundbreaking. 

“When it opens in fall of 2025, this building will provide our faculty and students with innovative academic spaces that will enhance teaching and learning in the humanities, the arts, mathematics, computer science, and data science,” Lawrence President Laurie A. Carter said. “It will provide new opportunities for our students to engage with community partners through internships and other collaborations as we prepare the next generation of thoughtful, inspired leaders.”

The building will feature more than 100,000 square feet of space over four floors, with a state-of-the-art Trout Museum of Art on the ground floor, innovative academic spaces for Lawrence on the second floor, and market-rate apartments on the upper two floors. Located at the southwest intersection of College Avenue and Drew Street, on the western edge of the Lawrence campus, the building is a partnership between Lawrence and TMA, with Lawrence owning the upper three floors and TMA the ground floor. It has an estimated cost of $38 million and will be built by Boldt.

Breaking ground

Watch the March 7 groundbreaking ceremony in the 300 block of E. College Avenue.

For Lawrence, the new building, its first since Warch Campus Center opened in 2009, will support programming that builds on the university’s world-class academics. It adds more than 30,000 square feet of academic space and provides flexibility for future enrollment growth.

“We are continually seeking opportunities to build on the academic tradition that for 177 years has made Lawrence one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the nation,” Carter said. “We continue to adapt our academic and cocurricular programming and experiences to prepare our graduates for a rapidly changing world.”

An anonymous gift of $10 million from an alum, announced in December, kickstarted Lawrence’s fundraising for its share of the project.

Lawrence faculty have been guiding the planning for the academic spaces on the second floor—soundproof offices and studios for Conservatory faculty and offices for the Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Department. It will include an innovative teaching and co-curricular commons, where students will engage in both formal and experiential learning in varying disciplines. And it will be home to the Humanities Center, an intellectual collaborative for faculty, students, and scholars-in-residence. 

A crowd of more than 200 gathers for the groundbreaking.
More than 200 people from Lawrence and the Fox Cities community gathered under sunny skies for the March 7 groundbreaking.

Susan Hall ’76 represented Lawrence’s Board of Trustees at the groundbreaking. She is both an alumna of Lawrence and the parent of an alumna. She called this project an important investment in preparing Lawrentians to thrive in today’s world.

“The trustees believe this is much more than a building—it’s a critical piece of our university’s future,” Hall said.

For TMA, this will be a new home, complete with the amenities of a modern art museum. It will showcase artwork and function as a dynamic community space, emphasizing art education and engagement. Its location on the Lawrence campus will provide new opportunities for collaboration with Lawrence students interested in the visual arts, nonprofits, education, and entrepreneurship.

“We celebrate our deepening partnership with this community, most notably with the Trout Museum of Art, an indispensable community jewel,” Carter said.

Photo gallery: See more images from the March 7 groundbreaking

Christina Turner, executive director for TMA, called the partnership with Lawrence an opportunity to elevate community collaborations to new heights, “blending the academic rigor of Lawrence University with the boundless creativity of the Trout Museum of Art.”

President Carter speaks at the podium while others on the stage look on.
Lawrence President Laurie A. Carter is joined on the stage by (from left) John Bergstrom, Susan Hall '76, Christina Turner, Mayor Jake Woodford '13, Karen Cain, and Lawrence senior Anders Hanhan.

When it opens in 2025, it will remind all who visit of the transformative power of art, she said.

“The museum will serve as a vibrant hub of intellectual exploration and cultural enrichment,” Turner said. “It will be a place where artists can thrive, where ideas can flourish, and where new forms of art can be born.”

Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford, a 2013 Lawrence graduate, called the groundbreaking for this collaborative project “an exciting day for our community.” He thanked Carter, Turner, the respective boards, and community leaders for delivering both a vision and plan for the visual arts in Appleton.

“Today is a reminder of the blessings of living in a place like the Fox Cities,” Woodford said. “And the importance of continuing to push forward and invest in what makes community community.”

Carter, Turner, and Woodford all praised the support of community leaders, notably John Bergstrom, the late Dr. Monroe Trout and his wife, Sandra Trout, and Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region President and Chief Executive Officer Curt Detjen, for helping bring this vision to reality.

Lawrence senior Anders Hanhan, president of the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC), told those gathered that this building is an investment that will benefit Lawrentians for generations to come—from the humanities to the arts and beyond.

Drawing of the building at 325 E. College Avenue.
Design of building at 325 E. College Avenue. (Frederick Fisher and Partners)

The building is designed by the Los Angeles-based Frederick Fisher and Partners, in partnership with Boldt. The building design, first unveiled in December, features vibrant architecture that will remake the east end of Appleton’s downtown. Blending innovation and tradition, the design creates a visual masterpiece that promises to elevate the city's cultural landscape—a simplicity of form with two rectangular stacked volumes that seamlessly fuse the boundary between the downtown and the edge of the Lawrence campus.

“When we built the arch you see across the street in 2022, we said it represented an entryway to campus, a welcoming nod to the community, a connecting point for Lawrence and downtown Appleton,” Carter said. “Our histories are forever entwined, and today we add another chapter, deepening our investment in and commitment to downtown Appleton.”