Marquette University: Sensenbrenner Hall

Milwaukee, WI
  • Higher Education - Renovation + Addition
  • Marquette University
  • 25,000 SF (renovation) + 8,000 SF (addition)
  • May 2014

A cornerstone of Marquette University’s historic district, Sensenbrenner Hall was built in 1923 to house the Law School. The four-story brick and stone clad building helped mold the architectural identity of Marquette’s campus. Korb was selected to reimagine the building for the College of Arts and Sciences—complete with demolition, renovation, and addition.


Preserving Historic Character

After performing evaluations of the building conditions, our design team sought to restore the building by creating a consistent palette between the original construction and the new construction. The challenge? Allowing each piece of architecture to remain true to its time.

The plan was this: Return the 1923 building back to its original historic character through detailed restoration and meticulous material-matching, discreetly add contemporary systems and amenities, and design a modest addition with a highly transparent face to the community.


Purposeful Restoration and Addition

We began by removing the building’s previous additions from 1966 and 1985, and re-introduced the original architectural treasures that had been lost—the original terrazzo floors, curved wood handrails, and the Library’s skylight and mezzanine. Hallmark features in the Reading Room such as woodwork, fireplace, and stained glass windows were restored.

Our design team was challenged to create an addition that was the antithesis of the existing building, while remaining complimentary to it. Although the addition’s transparent facade added a modern touch to the building’s exterior, the warm hues of the original building were carried throughout the structure and into the addition—seamlessly linking the spaces together.


A Heightened Sense of History

The result of this project left Marquette staff and students to revel in renovated offices, event spaces, and lounge areas. Sensenbrenner Hall’s structure pays homage to its history, while providing the modern comforts of air conditioning, elevators, and other amenities.

With environmental sustainability a top priority, our team significantly improved the thermal performance of the original building envelope with new, high-performance windows and spray foam insulation at all exterior walls.  After completion, the project was awarded LEED Silver Certification  by the USGBC.

Upon the completion of this project, the Marquette University campus gained a heightened sense of the beauty of architectural history.