Design Challenge

3 Finalists:

  • Agency Landscape and Planning
  • Sasaki
  • James Corner Field Operations

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.



October 3, 2022: Design Challenge Kick-Off
6 p.m. at the Madison Central Library
The three design teams will livestream to the event and introduce themselves and their teams’ unique perspective on master plan development.

November 1, 2022: Friends of Nolen Waterfront/Frank Lloyd Wright Lecture Series
7 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Lecture Hall
Local speakers will present perspectives on the history of the area and how the vision of a signature waterfront park has become a possibility.

November 7, 2022: Design Challenge Check In
6 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Lecture Hall
The three teams will present initial thoughts and concepts online in developing a master plan vision of the Lake Monona Waterfront.

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.


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 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 – Retired
  • Jason Ilstrup, At-Large Executive Committee of FNW, Downtown Madison Inc.
  • 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
  • Carol Richard, Ross Street Design
  • Technical Task Force: George Austin, Alan Fish, Fred Klancnik, Doug Kozel, Dave Mollenhoff, James Tye, and other members