Wisconsin Alumni Park

Finalist 2018

As an outdoor museum, a storytelling park, a sculpture garden and a festival green, Alumni Park is designed to create and capture the pride, joy and spirit of being a University of Wisconsin Badger. The scope included designing 1.3 acres of outdoor exhibits that seamlessly integrated "The Wisconsin Idea" into the park, reaffirming UW Alumni commitment to giving back and inspiring visitors to make a positive change in the world.

The 24/7 four-season park features Alumni Way, an interpretive “boardwalk,” a series of “Story Waves” with selected quotes from distinguished Alumni, a variety of whimsical sculptures, art installations, gathering spaces and gardens with native plantings—all seamlessly integrated into the landscape design.

Alumni Park needed to be a place where Alumni could meet, mingle and host a variety events and an outdoor museum where guests discover the many ways that UW Alumni are making a difference around the world. Challenges of the project included: the extreme weather conditions for outdoor exhibits that needed to be taken into consideration during design and fabrication; creating an outdoor public experience which was durable, yet sophisticated, with exhibits that can be periodically updated with new content.

The design solution was to embed the narrative layers of Alumni Park into the physical landscape by developing an innovative design that uses traditional materials—corten steel, native limestone, black steel—and digital cutting and sculpting techniques. This work was undertaken simultaneously with the creation of a Virtual Alumni Park experience for guests.

Design Firms: 

Ralph Appelbaum Associates


Wisconsin Alumni Association

Project Area: 

57,000 sq ft

Open Date: 

October 2017

Project Budget: 

$1,000,000 USD

Design Team: 

Ralph Appelbaum (principal in charge), Dennis Cohen (creative director), Büke Kumyol (project director/manager), Rob Bolesta (art director), Hannah Nathans (junior graphic designer), Miranda Smith (content developer), Rachel Smith (content coordinator), Michael Abraham (content coordinator)


SmithGroupJJR, Uihlein Wilson Architects, Technical Artistry


Cinnabar, Walla Walla Foundry, Quarra Stone

Related Links: 

New Member Offer

Click to access the 2020 "Never been an SEGD member before" $185 sign up offer

Upcoming SEGD Events

2023 SEGD Academic Summit
2023 Wayfinding and Placemaking
2023 Experience Washington D.C.