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The 2013 IB Commercial Design Awards

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The commercial construction industry continues its gradual climb back to pre-recession activity, and the number of projects in this, the sixth annual Commercial Design Awards, reflected that measured comeback. 

The value of nonresidential construction put in place in February of this year (the month for which the most recent data were available as of this writing) had climbed to $309.6 million, roughly halfway between the pre-recession peak of $414 million in January 2008 and the low point of $226.8 million in January 2011. 

Despite the continued recessionary drag, our panel of judges – Bob Greenstreet and Geoff Hurtado of UW-Milwaukee and Mark Fenton of Leopardo Companies in Chicago – remained impressed with the quality of the submissions, the skillful design of the architects, and their attention to detail. 

“We haven’t lost the commitment of the clients, the skill of the designers, or the craft of the contractors,” noted one judge.

Their winning choices for Project of the Year and other categories are a tribute to the state of architecture and commercial development in Madison and Wisconsin. With that, IB presents the 2013 Commercial Design Awards.

– Joe Vanden Plas

The Stream

Project of the Year, Best Medium Project, and Best Green-Built Project

It might sound trite to call The Stream a state-of-the-art arts facility, but the new crown jewel of the Edgewood College campus fits the bill. CDA judges admired its elegant form, the way it takes advantage of the campus site, and the way it blurs the distinction between indoor and outdoor surroundings.

How much did CDA judges love The Stream? The new home of Edgewood’s Visual and Theatre Arts department was not only selected as Project of the Year, it was also voted the Best Medium Project and Best Green-Built Project.

The 44,000-sq.-ft. structure will provide a place for community artists to grow. Among its unique features is a two-story, sunlit atrium, which provides a common gathering place for relationship building and unobstructed views of the nearby woods. Its spacious, industrial interior mimics that of a theater loft with a mix of concrete floors, large windows, exposed pipes, bare ceilings, and suspended light fixtures.

The Stream was originally conceived to house only the fine arts department, but the building program changed with the addition of the 7,000-sq.-ft. Black Box Theatre, which brought the fine arts and theater programs together under one roof. The acoustically isolated, energy-efficient theater includes a full catwalk system and functions as both a teaching theater and a venue for public performances. The building is also home to the new Edgewood College Gallery, with its 1,000-piece permanent collection of works by local and international artists. 

“Overall, when you factor in the green features, the new technology, and the aesthetics, which were phenomenal, and what it’s being built for, it hits the mark in all phases,” remarked one judge. “I like the use of glass to bring in nature, the trees. It is a theater arts building, and I think they incorporated the arts into the design.”

Since the site is located in an environmental corridor along the shore of Lake Wingra, and several surrounding Indian effigy mounds and a 100-year-old oak tree affected its layout, designers faced several interesting challenges. To preserve the oak tree, a small outdoor amphitheater was designed to circle the tree and create a point of interest. The building, which is on track to receive LEED Gold certification, actually splits into a “Y” shape that straddles the oak, leaving enough room for root preservation. 

Designers went with a geothermal system complete with 42 geothermal wells to reduce heating and cooling loads and to remove the noisiest components of a traditional mechanical system, which improves the acoustics of the theater space. Storm water from the roof and parking areas is collected in bio-filtration areas that filter the runoff before returning it to the landscape. Repurposed wood chips along the walking paths are from trees taken during construction.

To optimize natural daylight, the theater’s high-performance lighting is coordinated with daylight sensor controls in the public spaces, corridors, and classrooms. Use of low-flow fixtures should result in a 31% reduction in annual water usage, and annual energy costs are forecast to be 48% less than those incurred by a building built to code minimum standards.

“It’s a well-crafted, well-conceived project,” noted one judge. “It’s a nice integration of architecture and the natural environment.”

Project Credits

Location: 1000 Edgewood Drive, Madison, WI 53711
Owner/Developer: Edgewood College
General Contractor: J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc.
Architect: Potter Lawson, Inc.
Interior Design Architect: Potter Lawson, Inc.
Engineer: Arnold and O’Sheridan, Inc.
Consultants: Engineering 370, JDR Engineering, Ken Saiki Design, Bill Conner Associates LLC, Stan Roller & Associates
Photography: C&N Photography
Completion Date: August 2012


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