Nolen Centennial Project Master Plan and Implementation Plan

A bold new vision for Madison’s central gathering place and backyard

In 2009, Madison business leaders Tim and Kevin Metcalfe began to assemble a Project Task Force that included Vandewalle and Associates, the City of Madison Parks Department, and City of Madison Planning Department. The task was to create a bold new vision for the large network of park, public and gathering spaces clustered along Madison’s John Nolen Drive corridor.

Place and potential

The new vision positions the John Nolen Drive corridor, long a central feature in the City of Madison’s multi-lake landscape, as a world-class destination and economic catalyst. The Nolen Centennial Project, presented publicly in 2011 on the 100th anniversary of planner John Nolen’s visionary “Madison a Model City” plan, aims to protect and enhance what is unique about the area while preparing Madison and the region for the growing population of the future. It creates a world-class lakefront park and event destination, catalyzes other investment and economic activity, and reinvigorates a prime entry to the city. At the heart of the Project is a desire to maximize public access and use of the area’s beautiful, but underutilized assets.


  • Centennial East – including Reflection Point and signature public art; a park and pleasure way for improved public lake access; an outdoor lakeside amphitheater; and a lake education center and restaurant.
  • Centennial West – expanded to host new regional, national and international events, sports and community recreation at the Alliant Energy Center complex and recreational areas to the north.
  • John Nolen Parkway improvements – for safety, access and gateway creation.
  • The Centennial Land Bridge over John Nolen Parkway – connecting Centennial East and West and enabling large cultural and athletic events to flow seamlessly and safely into both sides of the parkway.