2014 Commercial Design Awards

In the words of one of our CDA judges, Madison is a town that’s “on fire” when it comes to quality commercial developments. As the local commercial construction industry continues to recover from a devastating recession, the quality of projects in this, the seventh annual Commercial Design Awards program, is representative of a healthier and more creative industry.

Once again, our panel of judges was impressed with the quality and value of local projects that continue to boost the local housing stock, commercial office inventory, and tax base. While fewer projects were submitted this year, one judge felt the overall quality of the projects was the strongest in the seven-year history of the CDA program. “I think it is evidence that clients know and understand that good design matters and are challenging their architects to give them the best design and value possible for their budgets,” he noted. “The architects, for their part, are responding most elegantly.”

In this CDA presentation, we introduce the “Project of the Year” winner and various category winners chosen by a panel of three judges: Bob Greenstreet (UW-Milwaukee), Mark Fenton (Leopardo Companies), and Geoffrey Hurtado (UW-Milwaukee). 

Their choices and laudatory evaluations indicate the future of architecture and commercial development in Madison and Wisconsin is in good hands. Remarked another CDA judge, “The larger projects surpass those of developments in the largest cities in the country in size, financial commitment, complexity,
and design innovation.”

We couldn’t have said it better. With that, we present the 2014 Commercial Design Awards. — Joe Vanden Plas

Wisconsin Energy Institute

Project of the Year and Best Green-Built Project

Yet another UW campus icon could be in the making with the 107,000-sq.-ft. Wisconsin Energy Institute, not just because of its stunning design, but also because of its sustainable purpose. It could well be the place for discoveries that foster greater energy independence while making it possible for alternative forms of energy to displace fossil fuels.

The energy counterpart to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the WEI encourages chance encounters, not to mention collaboration and knowledge transfer, between roughly 220 energy researchers, cross-disciplinary teams, and staff. Needless to say, the building gave our judges an eyeful, which is why it took home both Project of the Year and Best
Green-Built Project. 

Divided into two wings — offices and labs — that are connected by a central light well, the building relies on deft use of glass to deeply draw in natural light and provides areas for researchers to interact at bridges and other connection points. A generous use of glazing provides a visual connection across the atrium, from the offices to most labs, allowing researchers to see colleagues and foster impromptu discussions. 

On the east end, the light well is visible from the street, giving motorists on Campus Drive a glimpse into the heart of the building. Since daily visitors will engage in bioenergy education and outreach programs, this view is intended to encourage the public to learn more about the WEI’s alternative energy research and educational opportunities.

“A beautiful incorporation of building design and functionality,” stated one CDA judge. “On the exterior, a beautiful blend of materials and design lines, and on the interior, a unique blend of office space, educational space, and lab space. The design is clean, crisp, and inviting. While intended to be very ‘high-tech,’ it is a very user-friendly environment.”

The design also placed labs and tall mechanical spaces to the north, away from nearby residential neighborhoods. Meanwhile, fifth-floor office space was set back from the street to provide a lower profile in deference to residences and a landmark church.

Another judge called the WEI’s design “an elegant response” to a somewhat challenged site, which is shaped sort of like the state of Indiana. “The building fits the site and does not look like it was planted on that site,” he said. “The creative use of form and materials almost makes it look like it lightly touched down on the site.”

Sustainable Sustenance

Since sustainability is the facility’s driving ambition, perhaps the WEI had an unfair advantage in the Best Green-Built category, but the building, on track for a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold certification, carried the day with a projected 52.5% energy-use reduction. Sustainable features include a chilled beam system for the office wing and a more conventional variable air volume (VAV) system for the labs. The fluid-cooled chilled beam system provided an opportunity to enhance the heat-recovery system with an efficient heat reclaim chiller, resulting in a projected annual energy savings of 85,880 therms. 

With installed daylight and motion sensors, the building’s lighting and ventilation are tied directly to occupancy. The sheer volume of labs and the number of fume hoods compelled designers to identify ventilation as a key factor in energy reduction, so even the efficient, low-flow fume hoods are equipped with proximity sensors.

To fine-tune the central light well and provide the best balance between daylight and energy conservation, five different massing strategies were studied for the project’s energy model. By grouping similar program types together and creating a separate mechanical system for each section, the design team was able to achieve better efficiencies in the mechanical design.

Sustainability aside, it was the institute’s collaborative functionality that most inspired our judges. “A powerful building that is architecturally striking, providing a great symbol for sustainability,” noted one judge.

Another added, “My favorite feature, besides the energy efficiency, is the versatility of the interior spaces and the flexibility to do many different things inside. What a wonderful place to do research!”

Project Credits

Location: 1552 University Ave., Madison, WI 53726
Owner/Developer: State of Wisconsin
General Contractor: Mortenson Construction
Architects: Potter Lawson, Inc., HOK (St. Louis, Mo.)
Interior Design Architect: HOK
Engineer: Affiliated Engineers, Inc.
Consultants: Potter Lawson (lighting design), Arnold & O’Sheridan (structural), Ken Saiki Design (landscape), The Weidt Group (energy modeling), PSJ Engineering (plumbing)
Photography: Nels Akerlund (Rockford, Ill.)
Completion Date: April 2013



Capitol Petroleum

New Retail Development and Small Project

With its crisp design and elegant use of materials, our judges viewed Capitol Petroleum’s new Madison facility as a redefinition of what a gas station-convenience store is meant to be. 

In going beyond what’s expected, designers of this combination convenience store, fuel dispensary, car wash, restaurant, and office “did not go overboard in trying to make it look impressive, and in so doing made it even more impressive,” remarked one CDA judge. 

That’s a fine line to walk when replacing an existing convenience store, but it had to be done. The previous store and site, located to the north of the new site in the Novation Campus business park, was poorly maintained and a focal point for crime and loitering. By co-locating the convenience store with the operational headquarters, the new operator is better able to maintain the facility and provide better security.  

The result is an amenity that serves the community and Novation Campus, and one that could serve as a catalyst for additional retail and residential development in the vicinity. The facility also provides a new food option to the residents of the area and the 2,000 tenants of the business park. 

Also among its better design features are deep overhangs for passive solar control and shelter for an office patio, panoramic clerestory glazing in the office space, and a material palette that blends well with the overall Novation Campus.

“Beautifully crafted elevations with a sensitive use of building materials,” commented one judge. “A very well-developed series of elevations.”

Another judge was pleased by the departure from the norm. “A unique incorporation of design and materials create a comfortable environment, separating itself from the everyday pit stop,” he said. “It’s extremely unique to incorporate office space with a gas station, yet very well done.”

Project Credits

Location: 2570 Rimrock Road, Madison, WI 53713
Owner/Developer: Capitol Petroleum, LLC (Farooq Shahzad)
General Contractor: Supreme Structures
Architect/Interior Design Architect: Aro Eberle Architects
Engineers: Cold Spring Design, LLC; Professional Engineering, LLC
Photography: Eric Tadsen Photography
Completion Date: March 2013



Navitus Health Solutions

New Office Development and Medium Project

Navitus Health Solutions boasts of a transparent business model, and you could say the design of its new three-story, 70,000-sq.-ft. headquarters is a reflection of that. 

Large windows, tall ceilings, and generous sidelights in offices and conference rooms distinguish the facility, located in Grand Chute, just outside of Appleton. Contributing to the inviting theme are touches like a relaxing patio and a break room with a fireplace that provides a comfortable and welcoming employee environment. 

“Well-sculpted exterior form, with good use of glass and great views from the offices,” remarked one judge.

Inside, the finishes contribute to the sense of a calm, serene work environment that is well lit with artificial and natural lighting. A beautiful central staircase with steel and cable railings, along with terrazzo stair treads, creates a focal point highlighted by solar tube skylights.

The environment is so relaxing, it’s hard to believe any work actually gets done. But after several years of working in an overcrowded office space, Navitus executives knew they had to build a modern facility specifically for the company and its growing needs.

“The office creates a unique working environment, separating itself from the typical over-condensed workstation environment,” stated one judge. “The extensive glass exterior creates a warm, work-friendly environment, bringing the outdoor environment into the workspace. The large decorative staircase erases typical workspace separation and encompasses the entire workspace.”

Navitus, which also has an office in Madison, is a pharmacy benefit management company committed to lowering drug costs. In addition to housing a large call center, its new facility is home to a variety of departments: information technology, member services, government programs, clinical operations, pharmacy network operations, and compliance and auditing.

The facility has the capacity to house 366 employees, but it’s located on an attractive site along U.S. 41 that would allow Navitus to double in size. 

“It strikes me as a wonderful place to work,” said another judge. “The designers obviously recognize that people spend a lot of time in
that building, and they made it light and airy for the occupants.”

Project Credits

Location: 5 Innovation Court, Appleton, WI 54914
Owner/Developer: Navitus Health Solutions
General Contractor: Ideal Builders, Inc.
Architect: Potter Lawson, Inc.
Photography: Eric Tadsen Photography
Completion Date: Aug. 23, 2013



Madison College Smart Future Program

Large Project

The project cries out “innovate, create, transform, and do it quickly.” That was one judge’s assessment of Madison College’s massive Smart Future Program, which constitutes a substantial makeover of a key educational and workforce institution that trains people for occupations ranging from protective services to welding to nursing. 

With a combined 440,000 sq. ft. between four newly constructed facilities in Madison and four renovated buildings at regional campuses, Smart Future is the largest project ever submitted to our CDA program. It certainly involved the most modernization, made possible by a successful 2010 referendum that voters passed as the economy was still feeling the effects of a deep recession. 

Convincing voters in 12 counties to pass a $133.7 million building referendum during tough times is not easy to do. Neither is building new structures that meet today’s educational standards and help ensure student success — without producing a staid, institutional look and feel. Originally, several major programs were dispersed throughout Madison due to the lack of space at the college’s main Truax campus, and they were housed in outdated buildings that, in some cases, were not fully equipped. 

All that has changed. Now, the Gateway and the Health Education Building, and the Ingenuity and Protective Services Education centers, all located on the Truax Campus, are housed in state-of-the-art learning environments that have been designed to LEED Silver certification. The 171,000-sq.-ft. Health Education Building and the Protective Services Education Center exemplify modernization, with their high-tech simulation labs capable of creating a number of training experiences. The former includes a full-scale virtual hospital, while the latter replicates the sequence of bringing an ambulance to a hospital-like entrance.

The new facilities not only address educational and workforce needs — the Health Education Building is expected to reduce waiting lists for various health programs by 17% to 20% — they do so in a sustainable way. For example, a geothermal heating and cooling system was constructed to serve the Health Education Building and Protective Services Education Center. In keeping with the LEED standards, they were incorporated to help achieve significant energy-consumption payback.

Judges praised designers for using stone and other materials to their best advantage. Referring to the Truax buildings, another CDA judge marveled at how the exterior architecture blends into the environment. “A complete incorporation of materials and design create an atmosphere that is student friendly and not institutionalized, creating a learning environment far surpassing many higher-level learning facilities,” he stated. “The silver LEED status obtained is a further accreditation to the success of the project. They were able to encompass four buildings into a well-designed campus, without an ‘educational-compound’ atmosphere.”

Project Credits

Location: Various sites in Madison and Wisconsin
Owner/Developer: Madison College
General Contractor: J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc.
Architects: Potter Lawson (Protective Services Education Center); Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Inc. (Health Education Building); Plunkett Raysich Architects (Truax Gateway); Strang, Inc. (Ingenuity Center); Dimension IV (Fort Atkinson Campus); Assemblage Architects (Portage Campus); Dorschner Associates, Inc. (Watertown Campus); Cameron Aslaksen Architects, LLC (Reedsburg Campus)
Engineers: KJWW Engineering Consultants and Arnold & O’Sheridan (Protective Services Education Center); Harwood Engineering Consultants, Ltd., JSD Professional Services, Inc., and SAA Design Group (Health Education Building); Plunkett Raysich, JSD Professional Services and KJWW Engineering Consultants (Truax Gateway); Strang (Ingenuity Center); Native Engineering, Hein Engineering, and Cold Spring Design (Fort Atkinson Campus); JDR Engineering, Inc. (Watertown and Reedsburg Campuses)
Photography: Loren Zemlicka Photography
Completion Date: Sept. 30, 2013



Luminex Corp.

Office Renovation

A colorful, highly engaging building has been fashioned at the new Madison location of Luminex Corp., a life sciences company based in Austin, Texas. At least, that was the reaction of our CDA judges to the refurbishing, which allowed a large, vacant office space to be put to productive use. 

Luminex acquired the Madison-based EraGen Biosciences in 2011, when it was located at 918 Deming Way. A clever use of color and light makes the 35,850-sq.-ft. renovation, located at 1224 Deming Way, inviting for visitors as well as occupants, who use it for a number of functions: laboratory work, research and development, quality control, and the manufacture of molecular diagnostic products.

The new facility is set up for between 65 and 85 employees. Due to the lab and R&D functions, the space has elaborate mechanical systems that include ultra-low-humidity areas, along with precise humidity control and compressed air and gas systems. The facility is also set up for Biosafety Level 2 and 3 labs, which pertain to respective levels of containment.

The interior finishes present a strong corporate environment with signage, wall color, and a wall covering at the entrance, which states the company mission. The modern feel is reinforced with large amounts of glass wall space for conference rooms, offices, and the entryway. “Bright, colorful, and
meticulously detailed interiors, which create a stylish, modern workplace,” observed one judge.

Another judge cited the new facility’s seamless incorporation of upscale office space and lab space, which creates what he called a comfortable workspace environment. “One would never know they are entering into a lab space,” he remarked. “It’s very meticulously designed for its purpose.”

Project Credits

Location: 1224 Deming Way, Madison, WI 53717
Owner/Developer: T. Wall Properties
General Contractor: Ideal Builders, Inc.
Architect: Eppstein-Uhen Architects
Photography: Eric Tadsen Photography
Completion Date: Aug. 30, 2013



The Roast

Retail Renovation

State Street is trying to redefine itself in a way that bridges the gap between old and new, allowing it to incorporate modern features while maintaining its traditional aura. 

The latest example of this delicate transition, a renovated version of The Roast, stands out for many reasons, most notably an attractive integration of new and historic elements. Architects used existing “bones,” including the rough brick of the new site, and enhanced them through the refinement of new materials and space.  

Located in a venerable building on the campus end of State Street, the 5,170-sq.-ft. restaurant and bar caters to the diverse groups of people who live, work, and stroll along State Street by providing quick, inexpensive gourmet meals.

This example of “refined industrial” design, which offers the sense of a big-city restaurant with a uniquely Madison feel, left a flavorful impression on our CDA judges. One judge loved the materials and the use of light to provide accent, while another praised the unique use of existing “conditions” and reclaimed materials. “The atmosphere of an urban/city setting, set up for a student lifestyle,” remarked one judge. 

The refined-industrial design aesthetic also enabled designers to revamp the space while achieving another goal — sustainability, even on a modest budget. Examples of reclaimed or reused materials abound: raised booths in the bar area were reused from the former location. The bar’s countertop and tabletops are made of reclaimed heavy timber from an old warehouse, and the decorative wood that covers the plaster pilasters consists of reclaimed dunnage.

In addition to incorporating familiar materials and textures, the designers created a unique atmosphere by darkening the floors and ceiling and dropping exposed bulbs of various sizes to produce a “twilight” effect throughout the entire space. The goal was to create an ideal place for evening socialization and develop an environment where one could quietly enjoy a meal with friends and family. 

Based on the comments of another judge, they succeeded. “Warm, tactile materials like wood, leather, and brick combine to create an inviting meeting place,” he said.

Project Credits

Location: 558 State St., Madison, WI 53703
Owner/Developer: The Roast (Henry Aschauer and Doug Hamaker)
General Contractor: Supreme Structures
Architect/Interior Design Architect: Shulfer Architects, LLC
Photography: Matthew Anderson Photography
Completion Date: Oct. 1, 2013



Meet the Judges

Mark Fenton, Vice President, Leopardo Interiors Group, Chicago

Mark Fenton joined Leopardo in 1997 and is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the company’s Interiors Group. As vice president, Fenton plays a critical role in every aspect of tenant interior projects, including contract negotiations, preconstruction, estimating, project management, client service, subcontractor relations, quality control, and staff training. With over 20 years of experience in construction, Fenton has managed several million square feet of interior construction for law firms, financial services, creative agencies, trading facilities, technology firms, consultancies, and nonprofits. He earned a bachelor’s degree in construction administration from UW-Madison.

Bob Greenstreet, dean/chair of city development, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Professor Robert Greenstreet, Ph.D., has served as dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at UW-Milwaukee for the past 24 years, making him one of the longest-serving deans of architecture in the country. He is the author/co-author of seven books, has contributed to 20 other texts and handbooks, and has published over 170 working papers and articles. In addition to being a registered architect in the United Kingdom and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Dr. Greenstreet is a practicing arbitrator, mediator, and expert witness recognized in both the United States and Europe. He’s also served as president of the Board of Directors of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, which represents the 154 accredited programs of architecture in the United States, Canada, and the UAE.

Geoff Hurtado associate vice chancellor for facilities, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

A Madison East High School graduate, Geoff Hurtado holds a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture, a master’s degree in urban planning, and an MBA — all from UWM. Three years ago, he joined UWM as its associate vice chancellor for facilities, planning, and management, where he is responsible for all of the school’s major capital projects and facility maintenance. Prior to that, he was a senior vice president at Irgens Development Partners, where he served as an owners’ representative. Among the projects he’s been associated with are Midwest Airlines Center, Milwaukee; Metropolitan Place Condominiums, Madison; and the Forest County Potawatomi Casino expansions in Crandon and Milwaukee.

Plan Now to Enter the 2015 CDAs

The annual Commercial Design Awards celebrate the best commercial building projects and designs that Greater Madison architects, engineers, and builders have to offer.

Perennially, our CDA judges are impressed with the new and renovated commercial structures being developed by Dane County companies, and they believe local and state design talent ranks with the best nationwide.

The May 2015 CDA presentation, for projects completed in 2014, is already underway, and IB expects to have plenty of new projects to choose from.

Next year’s program will mark the CDAs’ eighth year, and once again we will recognize a Project of the Year and a first-place winner in several categories: Best New Office Development; Best New Retail Development; Best Small, Medium, and Large projects; Best Office and Retail Renovation; and Best Green-Built Project. Worthy projects can be submitted for more than one category, if applicable. 

As part of the nomination process, we will ask for blueprints, floor plans or renderings, and photographs of both the interior and exterior for consideration by our three-person panel of judges.

For entries in the potential “Best Renovation” categories, we ask that photographs be taken at the beginning and at the conclusion of the construction project. This helps our distinguished panel of CDA judges assess the quality of refurbished buildings.

Winners in each award category will be unveiled at an awards reception in May of 2015 (date and location to be determined) and will be featured in the May 2015 edition of In Business magazine. The Project of the Year will adorn the cover of that magazine.

IB encourages companies — architects, general contractors, and engineers — with projects due for completion in 2014 to contact Events Manager Jessica Hamm (jessica@ibmadison.com) to keep their soon-to-be completed projects on our radar screen. IB will provide entry forms, nomination materials, and other information to these firms as soon as they are available.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.