The Pyare Square Building Comes Down!!!
as recorded by our ARC on-scene photo journalist, Jerry Stein
What was it like to work in Pyare Square?
"In 1973 I interviewed for an environmental engineering job in the Pyare Square building and my first day on the job was there. Parking was limited and some people parked in the Hilldale shopping center but they eventually stopped allowing that. The wastewater bureau was on an upper floor in Pyare Square and I always enjoyed the view out my window which looked out on the Blackhawk Golf Course. It was hard to maintain a comfortable temperature in the building as the sun moved across the sky. It was particular bad in the spring and fall when system was set to heat and we had an unusually warm day. I worked there until we moved to GEF 2 in 1979.
Jerry R, 1973-1979
"In 1976, I was promoted from the Area Game Manager position stationed at the famous Quonset hut office at the Nevin Fish hatchery to the fancy round building. I joined five others on the rather skeletal Wildlife Management Bureau staff of John M. Keener on the sixth floor. We shared the floor with the Fisheries staff and Law Enforcement. A pool of program assistants in one locale immediately fronting the elevators served the three bureaus. Office space was limited, and my new office consisted of a desk placed in the outer hallway facing the outside windows immediately adjoining another desk manned by Fisheries Specialist Douglas Morrissette. The Wildlife Bureau staff consisted of Frank Haberland (Big Game), Ed Frank (Upland Game), Ronald Nicotera (Waterfowl), Kent Klepinger (Assistant Director), myself (Land Acquisition and Regulations), and John M. Keener (Director). We were all rather stunned when the entire agency was transferred downtown Madison to the GEF II office building in order to stimulate the economy around the square."
David G. 1967-1999
"Our clerical area used fans in the summer, because the windows made it really warm, and space heaters in the winter because it was so cold. I recall walking into the women’s bathroom on the 6th floor and a portion of the ceiling came crashing down over one of the toilets – a few minutes earlier and it would have been on my head! None of this compares to the tail end of a tornado, or high winds, that blew in glass from the front doors and up the stairwell cutting some employees as they were coming back to the building after lunch and some windows being blown out sending papers and files onto the Blackhawk Golf Course. But the parties…they were the best of times!"
Linda N. 1970-1979
Pyare Square History
From “iconic” to “blighted,” a variety of adjectives have been used over the years to describe the towering Pyare Square building in Shorewood Hills. By early September, it will be known simply as “history.”
Piece by piece, demolition of the cylindrical, 14-story high-rise is underway at 4610 University Ave., ending nearly a decade of uncertainty over what to do with the famed office building.
Named for the mathematical formula to calculate the area of a circle (A=?r²), Pyare Square was completed in 1969 and served as home for the state Department of Natural Resources for its first 10 years.
“It’s proven itself to be a really difficult site to deal with because the demolition cost was somewhere in the $700,000 to $1 million range,” Frantz said. “The ceilings were low by today’s standards, and it’s hard to do much with the structure because it’s such a monolithic chunk of concrete.”
In its place, Flad Development & Investment Corp. is building 95 apartments over two buildings dubbed “The Lodge Version 2.0” — an extension of a similarly named 100-unit complex the company opened in 2014, and the latest luxury apartment project in the swiftly redeveloping Hilldale area.
The four-story buildings are expected to increase the assessed value of the property from about $2 million to $12 million.
Over the years, there have been various proposals to repurpose the building as a hotel, condominiums, senior housing and, most controversially, low-income housing.
Pyare Square is in the process of a long goodbye. Its close proximity to surrounding buildings prevented the use of explosives in its demolition, so crews from Stevens Construction Corp. in late June began removing the top floors, using heavy machinery to drop material to the ground for clearing.
“Ninety-five percent of it goes down the old elevator shaft,” said Jeremy Jensen, a project superintendent for Stevens.
So far, crews have removed the building’s penthouse and its 14th floor. About one floor will vanish each week until Sept. 3, when Jensen said he’s expecting to begin work on the foundation of the new apartment building at that end of the site.
The gradual dismantling of Pyare Square has provided somewhat of a spectacle for onlookers, including employees of the adjacent McDonald’s, who could be seen watching the demolition through the drive-thru window Monday.
But will Pyare Square be missed?
“There’s not really any major opposition to seeing the building demolished,” Frantz said. “Periodically, we’d hear somebody say, ‘That’s too bad. It’s an iconic building.’ But I think people could kind of understand that we had tried so many times to get something done there.”
JOHN HART, Wisconsin State Journal, July 20, 2016,