University of Wisconsin-Madison Near West Playfields

University of Wisconsin Madison Near West Playfields Upgrade Parks Open Spaces

At a top-tier institution like the University of WisconsinMadison, student expectations are highespecially when their fees help pay for campus upgrades. Our team worked with the University to meet its students’ needs in creating new recreational facilities.


University of Wisconsin-Madison


Madison, Wisconsin


Athletics & Recreation, Athletics, Recreation, & Wellness, Campus Planning, Civil Engineering, Green Infrastructure, Higher Education, Landscape Architecture, Parks & Open Spaces, Student Life


9.8 AC

University recreation facilities, programs and services are designed to remove barriers, build community and support student well-being and health while being a critical component to attracting and retaining students. At the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW), students passed a referendum to improve the recreation experience. The Near West Playfields are the first project completed since the referendum went into effect.


University of Wisconsin Madison Near West Playfields Upgrade Parks & Open Spaces


SmithGroup partnered with the university to design the ten-acre site containing five fields, heavily used by students for baseball, flag football, soccer, lacrosse and ultimate frisbee. The chief intervention was conversion of the 6.7 acres of traditional grass fields into eco-friendly, state-of-the-art synthetic turf.


University of Wisconsin Madison Near West Playfields Upgrade Parks Open Spaces

Our team determined that natural turf could not support the kind of programmed activity these fields accommodate. Synthetic turf also allows longer playing schedules in the fall and spring. Our design of the lighting system of the fields was vastly improved through use of energy-saving LED technology.


The project fulfilled the promise of sustainability. The fields are close to a fresh water lake, making mitigation of infill migration key, and bio-infiltration swales improve runoff water quality. Amenities include bike and moped parking and wi-fi connection throughout the complex.

The classic concept of fitness of mind and body is millennia old but continues to be a compelling and viable force in the 21st century. For an elite and demanding student body, SmithGroup—working closely with student representatives—achieved the dual aspiration of an improved recreational experience and environmental responsibility.