Place Making Popularizes a Favorite Madison Destination
Madison, WI – The Monona Terrace rooftop has been known to Madisonians over the years as sporting one of the best views in the city, but with little else to offer. Recent enhancements and place making updates have made the location one of Madison’s most popular gathering destinations.
Striking blue and yellow umbrellas now cover the numerous tables offering ample shady seating for visitors looking to take in the gorgeous views of Lake Monona and the city skyline. “We wanted to make the rooftop a visitor and community destination appropriate for its prime location, the investment made by the community through the thousands of personal messages memorialized on the tiles located here, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision to connect the Capitol with the lake,” says Executive Director Gregg McManners.
The William T. Evjue Rooftop Gardens are blooming with gorgeous, landscaped bursts of color under the new direction of head landscaper Tony Gomez-Phillips. Bringing eight years of horticulture experience from Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Tony has begun a major renovation of the Monona Terrace gardens, which cover the rooftop and Olin Terrace. “I’m excited to continue growing the gardens and to connect people with what Frank Lloyd Wright envisioned as an inviting and beautiful community destination. It’s important to lay the foundation so this year has been about learning the microclimate and understanding what systems need to be in place in order to create a low-maintenance, sustainable rooftop garden experience. The beauty is already here; hopefully I can add to that and compliment the amazing views of Lake Monona,” said Gomez-Phillips. As for the future? Tony has big plans for the layout and water efficiency of the gardens and is currently recruiting volunteer help for early fall. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Now in its full second year, Art on the Rooftop has added a bit of whimsy to the rooftop. A free exhibition of public sculpture, the exhibit began as an outdoor pilot project in 2014 to help draw more visitors to the rooftop, while showcasing beautiful artwork from regional artists. The 2016 exhibit includes seven works all by different Midwest artists, six are located on the rooftop which will be on display through Nov 2016, and one is installed year round on Olin Terrace, the walkway leading up to Monona Terrace from the State Capitol. The installations, curated by local artist and arts manager David Wells, will showcase new art pieces each year.
The rooftop is also complimented by the Lake Vista Café which offers casual gourmet fare in a comfortable outdoor setting with some of the best views of the city and Lake Monona. The full menu can be seen here.
As the waters just off shore from Monona Terrace serve as the site of the 1967 plane crash that ended the life of Otis Redding, there is a memorial tribute to the great soul singer located on the East side of the rooftop, near the café. And it’s a wonderful spot to reflect on the life of the “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” artist whose career was cut short just as he was entering the mainstream pop music charts.
Parking is available for $5 in the Monona Terrace parking ramp at One John Nolen Drive. For more information, visit or call (608) 261-4000.
The Frank Lloyd Wright designed facility has a mission to deliver an exceptional and inspirational experience.