Friends of Nolen Waterfront

Connecting - Enhancing - Improving
Lake Monona's Waterfront

The Design Challenge

The Lake Monona Waterfront Design Challenge is a once-in-a generation opportunity to shape the future of Madison's urban waterfront. This is a competition to create a visionary, inclusive, and environmentally focused master plan for Madison's foremost public lakefront comprising 1.7 miles of shoreline and 17 total acres. The deadline for team submissions was May 2, 2022. Fourteen national and local consultant teams submitted responses. Following a process of ranking and interviewing, there were three teams selected to proceed with the design challenge: Agency Landscape and Planning, Sasaki, and James Corner Field Operations. This video captures some of the highlights of interviews with those firms.


Upcoming Events

January 26, 2023: Design Challenge Master Plan Presentations
6 p.m. at the Parks Division’s Olin Park Facility
The teams will present in person their proposed master plans for the Lake Monona Waterfront.

Design Challenge Check In

November 7, 2022: Design Challenge Check In
The three teams presented initial thoughts and concepts online in developing a master plan vision of the Lake Monona Waterfront. If you are interested, you can watch the entire presentation by clicking on this link to the City of Madison site:

Design Challenge Check In

Click below for recaps of their presentations:

Friends of Nolen Waterfront Presentation

November 1, 2022: Friends of Nolen Waterfront/Frank Lloyd Wright Lecture Series
The Friends of Nolen Waterfront sponsored this panel discussion on the history of the area and how the vision of a signature waterfront park has become a possibility.

In the News

National Design Teams Offer Striking Initial Concepts for Lake Monona Waterfront November 8, 2022

Madison to Engage Community on Lake Monona Waterfront Design Challenge September 15, 2022


October 3, 2022: Design Challenge Kick-Off
The three design teams livestreamed to the event and introduced themselves and their teams’ unique perspective on master plan development.

2008–2015: An all-volunteer group of community members and Madison-area design professionals gather to envision potential transformational projects to enhance downtown Madison’s unique isthmus geography, including the Lake Monona waterfront.

2016–2018: Ad Hoc committee of community members and Madison-area design professionals meet to support the Lake Monona Waterfront. Formation of Friends of Nolen Waterfront, Inc. non-profit.

2018: City approved funding for development of signature park master plan.

2019: Parks Division Preliminary Report for the Lake Monona Waterfront corridor.

2022: Launch of the Lake Monona Waterfront Design Challenge

Friends of Nolen Waterfront Board Members

  • Claire Schaefer Oleksiak, President of FNW, Sustain Dane
  • Tim Anderson, Vice President of FNW, Architect – Retired
  • Allen Arntsen, Secretary of FNW, Foley & Lardner – Retired
  • Jim Bradley, Treasurer of FNW, Home Savings Bank
  • Jason Ilstrup, At-Large Executive Committee of FNW, Downtown Madison Inc.
  • Carol Richard, Ross Street Design
  • Pam Christenson, MGE
  • Brenda Baker, Madison Children’s Museum
  • Tyler Leeper, Madison Boats
  • Sarah Neujahr, New Year Investments
  • Raj Shukla, The Nature Conservancy
  • Deb Archer, Archer Strategic Partners
  • Jamie Patrick, Destination Madison & Madison Area Sports Commission
  • Technical Task Force: Tim Anderson, architect and urban planner; Alan Fish, redevelopment strategist; Drew Howick, professional facilitator; Fred Klancnik, civil engineer; Doug Kozel, architect; Sam Lawrence, construction specialist; Dave Mollenhoff, historian; Carol Richard, architect; James Tye, fundraising and outreach strategist; Rob Montgomery, water resources engineer; Rahel Desalegne, civil engineer; Allen Arnsten (FNW Board liaison). Advisors as needed: George Austin, policy & development strategist and Mark Schmitz, experiential designer