Mecha House Updates

cream-colored three-story house with front porch and balcony
Mecha house, 206 Bernard Court (source: Wisconsin Historical Society)

The College of Letters & Science is constructing a new academic building on the southwest corner of North Park Street and West Johnson Street called Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall, to create a unified home for several L&S academic departments, programs and centers that currently are spread across five facilities on campus. Construction is expected to begin in November 2023 with completion in 2026. Work will include the demolition of two residence halls: Susan B. Davis Hall and Zoe Bayliss Cooperative. It will not include demolition of the Mecha house at 206 Bernard Court.

Proposed development of block 16, where the Mecha house is located, is detailed in the 2015 campus master plan. The plan was developed as a roadmap of recommendations for the next 30+ years and is updated every 10 years. It shows that the Mecha house could be affected or removed in possible future phases of development. Before any project in the campus master plan can move forward, it must also be identified in the University of Wisconsin System’s six-year Capital Plan and then approved in the State of Wisconsin’s biennial capital budget. No projects requiring the Mecha house removal are in the current UW System Capital Plan (2021–27).

Long-term facilities plans and advanced plans inform future possibilities on campus, but they do not necessarily move forward in the way they were initially envisioned. Student Affairs and Facilities Planning & Management (FP&M) are gathering and clarifying key information on these projects and plans to inform a collaborative process for campus development and to address any potential impact on the Mecha house. Keeping students informed and engaged is an important part of this process.

Recent activity

Nov. 15, 2023 Contractors move Mecha belongings to Red Gym 207 and to long-term storage.

Nov. 15, 2023 — As a follow-up to the Nov. 10 email, Student Affairs Executive Assistant Danielle Saunders emails the Mecha-designated representative with information about upcoming listening sessions for the cultural centers review. The message includes details on two Mecha listening sessions at Memorial Union. Students are invited to join another session if they cannot join the Mecha one.

Nov. 14, 2023 — As a follow-up to the Nov. 10 email, Student Affairs Chief of Staff Argyle Wade emails Mecha representatives with details on how to attend upcoming Campus Planning Committee meetings, scheduled for Nov. 16 and 30. Links to the agenda and additional details are also provided.

Nov. 10, 2023 — Representatives from Student Affairs and FP&M meet with Mecha to share that a possible project for the 900 block of Dayton Street, adjacent to Levy Hall and inclusive of the Mecha house, is being included in UW-Madison’s proposed 2025-2031 six-year capital development plan, with the possible parking facility slated for the 2029-2031 biennial capital budget request. 

The following message was sent to Mecha representatives as a follow-up to the meeting:

Dear Mecha students,  

Thank you for meeting with us to talk about possible future plans for the 900 block of Dayton Street. In addition to the attached Powerpoint deck, please find a short summary of our discussion below:  

    • UW-Madison is working on the 2025-2031 Six-Year Capital Development Plan, as well as the 2025-2027 biennial capital budget request.  Any potential project must be included in the long range/six-year plan, or it will not be considered in the current biennial budget request.  
    • UW-Madison has identified the area adjacent to Levy Hall as a potential future site for a parking structure to support campus parking and transportation needs. This proposed site would impact the Mecha house.  
    • This is a long-term plan, and while we have identified this location and identified the Dayton Street parking garage as a need in the 2029-31 biennial capital budget (six years from now), it does not guarantee that it will be approved or moved forward in that biennium.  Including it on the list means it is a future priority for campus that may be requested if and when we resolve the enabling requirements. We will continue to share information as the process moves forward and will continue to work with your organization on solutions if and when they may be needed. 

This information was requested in today’s meeting:

    • The Campus Planning Committee is the shared governance group that reviews and recommends how projects are prioritized to the Chancellor. The current ASM representative is Alex Lynn. We will send you information on how to attend their upcoming meetings on November 16 and 30. 
    • The consultant for the cultural centers review is Dr. Angela Batista. Next week Student Affairs will announce how students can participate in on-campus engagement sessions on Nov 27-29. We will forward you that information and hope you can participate. 

Thank you for the conversation today. If you would like to meet again, please let us know. 


Cindy Tortsveit, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning and Management
Argyle Wade, Chief of Staff for Student Affairs

Student Affairs Chief of Staff Argyle Wade notifies the ASM chair and vice chair, by email, of the proposed Dayton Street Parking ramp and impact on the Mecha House and reminded them that ASM has a student representative on the Campus Planning Committee.

Nov 8, 2023 — At the request of Mecha and working with the Blank Center for Campus History, University Communications photographs the murals in the Mecha House.

Oct. 16, 2023 — The move date for Mecha to the Red Gym is changed to Nov. 15, 2023.

Oct 15, 2023 — Mecha requests to extend move date past Nov. 2, 2023.

Oct. 12, 2023 — FP&M notifies Mecha that repairs to the house in preparation for Levy Hall construction will begin in January 2024.

Oct 9, 2023 — Mecha agrees by email to move to Red Gym 207 on Oct. 24, 2023.

Oct. 6, 2023 — Argyle Wade sends Mecha students an email that contains the summary notes, a list of items already in the Red Gym that are available to Mecha, and two possible relocation dates.

Oct. 5, 2023 — Student Affairs and FP&M meet at the Mecha house with Mecha representatives for a second site visit and to collect information so the contractor can prepare a moving estimate. Jesse Winters, FP&M Interim Space Management Director, sends those summary notes via email to the group.

Sept. 19, 2023 — Student Affairs, FP&M, and a moving contractor meet at the Mecha house with Mecha representatives to discuss move logistics and do a site visit so the contractor could provide an initial estimate and develop a project scope. The moving contractor delivers packing materials later that day.

Aug. 28, 2023 — Mecha selects Red Gym 207 as its temporary location.

Aug. 11 & 23, 2023 — Student Affairs and FP&M meet with Mecha representatives to continue discussions about alternative locations.

July 13, 2023 — Student Affairs and FP&M provide Mecha representatives a tour of the three available alternative locations: two spaces in the Red Gym and one in the Medical Sciences Complex.

June 26, 2023 — Student Affairs and FP&M meet with Mecha-designated representatives to share that they will need to move out of the house for at least the first year of the Levy Hall construction due to safety concerns of the condition of the building and its proximity to the construction site. Mecha is offered three alternative locations to consider. 

Student Affairs and FP&M clarify in the meeting that a return to the facility after the first year of construction would be based on three factors: 1) Mecha’s thoughts on moving based on the alternate Red Gym location they have been in; 2) evaluation of the construction’s impact on the Mecha house and the costs of any repairs; and 3) results of a cultural center review by an external consultant, which will include Mecha. 

May 26, 2023 — Student Affairs (AVC Gabe Javier and Chief of Staff Argyle Wade) share with a Mecha-designated representative that they are gathering more information on the building’s condition and anticipate having a better understanding in June. Student Affairs addresses the topic of alternative spaces if Mecha needs to move out during construction and clarifies that alternative space would likely be smaller based on what is available. Upon Student Affairs’ request, Mecha provides contact information for representatives during the summer months so that they can maintain communications.

May 1, 2023 — Representatives from Student Affairs and FP&M meet with Mecha students to share the results of a structural assessment of the house that was conducted in spring. Areas of concern include the front porch and balcony. FP&M indicates the areas of concern identified in the report would be repaired and informs Mecha about the potential need to relocate temporarily during the first phase of the Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall construction (at that time, planned to begin in November); further study is needed to determine the full impact of construction on the Mecha house.

April 16, 2023 — AVC Gabe Javier emails Mecha workers an update that the structural assessment was recently received and is being reviewed. Requests time to meet.

April 11, 2023 — Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gabe Javier emails Mecha workers to notify them that the second-floor balcony is not able to be used and the door leading to it will be locked with a sign indicating it is closed. Message requests a spring semester meeting with Mecha workers to provide an update.

March 16, 2023 — Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall planning team assess the internal and external Mecha building structure to determine considerations the general contractor may need to include before or during the nearby construction.

March 7, 2023 — Mecha Workers Meeting at Multicultural Student Center

  • Agenda: Welcome and introductions; clarifying construction and potential impact on the house (Irving and Dorothy Levy building, space assessments, block 16 map); cultural centers review study; lines of communication; questions
  • Invited: Mecha workers; Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gabe Javier, Associate Vice Chancellor for FP&M Cindy Torsveit, Interim Director for Campus Planning & Landscape Architecture Aaron Williams

Jan. 31, 2023 Update: Mecha House
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor emails update to student workers of Mecha (Mecha workers).

Dec. 7, 2022 — Indigenous Student Center & Mecha House Town Hall Follow-up
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor emails follow-up message to those who registered to attend the virtual town hall on Nov. 30, 2022.

Nov. 30, 2022 — Indigenous Student Center & Mecha House Community Town Hall
Virtual town hall hosted by Multicultural Student Center (MSC) to share updates on the ISC and Mecha.

Fall/Spring 2021–22 — Student Affairs and FP&M meet with student workers of Mecha to communicate the timeline of Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall construction beginning in fall 2023. They confirm that construction of the new building will not require relocation of the Mecha house but discuss moving tenants in summer 2023 to prevent disruptions of construction-related noise and dust and in anticipation of potential future construction projects on block 16. Student Affairs requests a space study in the Red Gym.

October 2021 — The MSC hires inaugural Indigenous Student Center Coordinator Bobbi Skenandore. In this role, she is the building manager for 206 Bernard Ct. and provides facility support for Mecha.

September 2021 — Student Affairs assumes responsibility and oversight for the AISCC to align with work and support of other cultural student organizations. MSC maintains responsibility for the house, similar to other cultural centers located in the Red Gym.

Brief history

2011–12 — Mecha is housed at a university-owned building, 710 University Avenue, which was demolished as part of Hamel Music Center construction. The university moves the Mecha, at that time sponsored by the Chicano and Latino Studies Program in the College of Letters & Science, to a UW-owned house at 206 Bernard Court.

2016–2020 — FP&M meets with Mecha staff concerning block 16 development and to confirm Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall phase one development will not require relocation of Mecha but that long-term plans include possible development of block 16 south of Clymer Place.

Block 16 construction

map of block 16 with building footprint and houses outlinedClick image to enlarge.

Map reflects construction impact on nearby houses, beginning fall 2023. Buildings in gray are owned by the university and scheduled for demolition as part of the Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall construction. Houses in blue mark the ISC and Mecha locations.

Last update: February 2023


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How is the Mecha house used and by whom?

The Mecha House at 206 Bernard Court houses the main office for Mecha de UW–Madison, a registered student organization that hosts meetings and events in the space.

Last update: April 24, 2023

What will be the impacts of Levy Hall construction on the Mecha house?

Demolition of Susan B. Davis Hall and Zoe Bayliss Cooperative begins in November 2023. The Mecha house will be affected by noise, vibrations, and dust. There may be additional noise due to the demolition of 923 Clymer Place (university property), scheduled for as early as January 2024. Clymer Place and Bernard Court will have additional traffic and heavy machinery.

FP&M is conducting structural studies on the Mecha house in spring 2023 to determine the potential impact of nearby construction.

Last update: April 24, 2023


Argyle Wade, Chief of Staff for Student Affairs,