Lake Monona Waterfront Design Challenge kicks off with introductions from top teams

MADISON, Wis. – The Lake Monona Waterfront Design Challenge kicked off at the Madison Public Library Monday evening with design teams live streaming into the event to introduce themselves and share their unique visions for development of the waterfront.

The competition has three design teams — Agency Landscape + Planning, James Corner Field Operations and Sasaki Associates — each of which put forward their plans for developing 1.7 miles of Lake Monona shore from Olin Park to Law Park. 

“It’s such a gem. It’s what you see when you drive in or ride your bike in and it’s such a beautiful backdrop so I’m excited to see it,” Madison Parks public information officer Ann Shea said prior to the meeting.

The project is aiming to increase access to the lake, improve water quality and aquatic habitats, celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural legacy and preserve the lakefront’s cultural history. The ad-hoc committee also recommended that the plan include a possible expansion of the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.

Shea says teams have plenty of freedom to design the project how they see fit, which means the plans could, and she hopes will look pretty different.

“There’s a lot there. Obviously, there’s Monona Terrace, but there’s open space of what that could be besides a bike path or besides a picnic table. That’s really what’s going to be presented,” said Shea.

James Tye, the executive director of the Clean Lakes Alliance which provided a grant to fund the challenge, said he’s excited about how the new redesign could help protect the lakes as well as make them more accessible.

“Think of all the wonderful ways instead of just being a road, how you can really interconnect it and also protect the lake,” he said.

READ MORE: Public meetings planned amid effort to reshape Lake Monona waterfront

The teams introduced themselves and shared their general approach to the project at the kickoff meeting Monday. On Nov. 7, they’ll share their initial thoughts and concepts at the Monona Terrace. Their final master plans will be presented on Jan. 26 at Olin Park.

The final plans will be available for public review and comment before the ad-hoc committee makes a final recommendation to the Common Council and Board of Park Commission in 2023.