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Concordia U now has access to 2,700 feet of a once-eroding bluff at the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Location Information: Mequon, Wisconsin United States

GIS Data:

Project Type(s): Public Parks and Recreation

Project Owner/Agency: Concordia University Wisconsin

Budget: $2,500,001 - $10,000,000

Envision Rating: Platinum


Situated along 2,700 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline on a crumbling, 130-foot high bluff, Concordia University Wisconsin faced extreme coastal erosion that was threatening its future of and preventing safe access to the lake. This project stabilized and restored the severely eroding bluff, creating a vital campus resource for environmental education, stewardship, and recreation. SmithGroupJJR civil engineers led an interdisciplinary team that took a holistic approach and produced innovative sustainable solutions to the site's unique design and construction challenges.§ion=34


Triple Bottom Line

Economic: CUW launched a $10 million "Renewed by the Waters" fundraising campaign, the largest in university history, to fund this project. Innovative design reduced the bluff stabilization/restoration costs to $7.6 million and allowed the campaign to also fund the construction of the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship. CUW was also able to build a new 250-bed residence facility near the top of the bluff. Undergraduate enrollment, which was increasing about 3% annually, increased 12.4% following completion of the project.

Environmental: A diverse engineering-led team evaluated and modeled the geology, hydrology, topography and coastal environment to develop a comprehensive solution for the lakeshore. The restored bluff includes environmental habitat enhancement areas, including perched wetlands and coastal dune and marsh areas. Innovative stormwater and groundwater conveyance systems continually feed the perched wetlands. The structural methods used to stabilize the bluff are hidden from view by low-maintenance native landscaping, with deep root structures further stabilizing the surface. The beach, reef and habitat areas were carefully designed to look as if they had existed for generations.

Social: The project shaped a culture of sustainability on campus, leading to the creation of a sustainability committee, new environmental academic programs, and the new CCES. Providing an outdoor classroom for environmental study was central to the design program. Concordia has added three new environmental studies programs that use the restored bluff as a living laboratory and classroom, all focused on preparing a new generation of environmental science educators for K-12 schools. The University's new LEED-Platinum CCES serves as a benchmark for sustainable restoration and research on the Great Lakes. CUW's restored lakefront and trails are also fully accessible to students, faculty and the public and heavily utilized by area residents. The project was one of five finalists for the ASCE's 2010 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award.

Contact Information

Bill Brose, P.E., Principal Engineer