By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 29, 2019 at 1:26 PM

Milwaukee School of Engineering today announced that it plans to renovate the school’s Roy W. Johnson Residence Hall (RWJ), 1121 N. Milwaukee St., into what it calls "a multi-purpose Living-Learning Community (LLC) with modernized, flexible living and learning spaces designed to serve the diverse needs of students and function as an extension of the classroom."

The plan will add 48 rooms – with 96 total beds, a 20 percent increase in capacity – to the existing 12-story building, erected in 1965, and create two-story "collaboration hubs" is a glass-enclosed addition that overlooks the Downtown skyline.

There will also be classrooms, private study spaces, workspaces, new restrooms and a kitchenette on each floor.

The ground floor of the building, which will be renamed in honor of former president, the late Dr. Hermann Viets upon completion, will get new classrooms, collaboration hubs, meeting rooms and the dining hall will get a makeover.

The front entrance to the building will also be reconfigured.

Currently the building has double- and single-occupancy rooms for both male and female students. Each floor has a lounge and a community restroom that serves 30-40 students.

The school has already collected $32 million of the $37 million plan through philanthropic commitments for the renovation that MSOE President John Walz says will allow students to not only live together but also "collaborate and share experiences."

"This Living-Learning Community will be designed to support MSOE’s hands-on, application-oriented approach to learning," said Walz. "The reimagined spaces will promote a sense of community in a lively, flexible and safe environment that integrates living and learning in a way that enhances and supports student success."

The transformation is being drawn by Uihlein-Wilson/Ramlow-Stein Architects, and MSOE hopes the dorm will be ready for the fall 2021 semester.

Constructed is expected to begin in May 2020.

MSOE’s Dwight and Dian Diercks Computational Science Hall, also designed by Uihlein-Wilson/Ramlow-Stein, is currently under construction down the block.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.