University of Wisconsin-Madison Divine Nine Garden Plaza
For decades, historically Black fraternities and sororities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were underrepresented in the spaces and places that comprise the fabric of their campus community. In 2022, the school unveiled a new plaza and interpretative installation celebrating the achievements, traditions and values of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the nine Black Greek-letter organizations that are foundational to its legacy.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Campus Placemaking, Higher Education, Landscape Architecture
Sited on the University’s prominent East Campus Mall, the newly created Divine Nine Garden Plaza is a poignant installation honoring the rich history and impact of Black fraternities, sororities and students within the UW-Madison community.
Drawing inspiration from workshops and listening sessions conducted with student advocacy groups representing a broad range of voices and perspectives, designers set out to create a celebratory outdoor space that could be used by these organizations for an array of gatherings, meetings, events, tours, educational activities, reflection and more.
Evoking images of strength and honor, the student-driven project represents characteristics that many NPHC organizations uphold—community, sisterhood, brotherhood, perseverance and a shared identity that is part of a broad and meaningful collegiate experience. It also underscores the importance of these historically Black organizations to UW-Madison through physical representation and acknowledgment.
“The Divine Nine Garden Plaza celebrates all the NPHC organizations in a light they deserve as influential student leaders on campus for decades,” Vice chancellor for student affairs Lori Reesor said. “This space will be a visual representation of the community our students have built here, and I am grateful for everyone who stood behind them to make this possible.”