2017 Commercial Design Awards

Food fanaticism extends to building design

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Madison’s reputation as a foodie town continues to be enhanced by an ever-growing collection of restaurants that are notable not only for their cuisine, but their design. In this year’s Commercial Design Awards program, our trio of judges had the most difficult time choosing a winner in the category of Best New Development or Renovation–Restaurant.

In the view of this year’s CDA judges, there were many gorgeous interiors to choose from in the restaurant and other categories, an indication that the local food fight “is on” in areas beyond the taste and texture of menu items.

Elsewhere, our CDA judges remarked on impressive uses of color and materials in the better projects, where atmosphere spoke volumes in submissions like Cask & Ale, which was submitted in the retail category because it doesn’t have dedicated food service.

The judges, all of whom are professional architects, also gave a nod to projects that promote workplace flexibility and collaboration, and one judge in particular singled out those projects that went over and above what is expected of their building type.

In recent years, sustainability has emerged as a key design factor in this and other architectural design programs, not only in the Best Green-Built category, but also in all categories. In the view of one judge, it’s important to not separate architectural design from sustainable design because the better projects integrate both.

As if to prove that point, we start with our Project of the Year, which also happens to be the Best Green-Built Project and the Best New Development or Renovation–Education. In keeping with our practice of the past several years, statewide projects were considered along with those in Greater Madison.

Waunakee Intermediate School

Project of the Year, Best Green-Built Project, and Best New Development or Renovation–Education

Drive through Waunakee and it’s easy to see the village is in the process of building a community with amenities attractive to young families with children. Large homes for growing families that are accessible to soccer fields, pools, parks, and sports/recreational facilities blend in with the occasional cornfield, a reminder of the community’s rural heritage. Relating nicely to this growth pattern is Waunakee Intermediate School, a 156,000-square-foot facility for fifth and sixth grade students that one CDA judge called a model for other educational structures.

With a capacity for 800 students and a philosophy that learning happens everywhere, the building has ample amenities that, if you’ll pardon the expression, set the earth tone. The building connects to the community by being true to its agricultural heritage, as the design concept was based on the farmland that surrounds it. Rectangular patterns and long, horizontal lines correspond to the surrounding panoramic views of straight and orderly rows of crops.

Architects captured the area landscape by using earthy color palettes inspired by natural elements such as the sun, wind, and water. Exterior glass employed a gridded patchwork pattern, inspired by local farm fields, while patterned brick and carpeting also reflect local rows of crops. On the interior, architects continued with the earthy color palette but added more colors associated with the village, including the color of the Waunakee Community High School Warriors — purple.

The school layout also accommodates emerging trends in learning. With an increasing number of students and subgroups, the Waunakee Community School District has embarked on a new way of organizing grades. Neighborhoods inside the school are called “villages” and are organized around the aforementioned elements (sun, wind, water, and earth) to color code a visual way-finding system. A variety of graphics are used throughout the building to create an identity for villages and a special sense of purpose for students.

Architects also created outdoor learning environments adjacent to the building by designing spaces for students to assemble and engage in exploration. A reading garden, formed with a gentle berm and rock steps, serves as a respite in good weather. Large canopies hang over rock outcroppings to form a makeshift classroom (weather permitting) and much of the surrounding landscape serves as a natural prairie habitat.

One CDA judge marveled at the environment for learning created by the architects, using terms like dynamic, lively, and fun. “The talk in education now is about active learning environments, and this project has both active and inviting spaces.”

Green acres

A network of systems work together for a sustainable building, resulting in lower energy use and lower operating expenses. Examples include geothermal heating and cooling systems installed throughout the building, rooftop solar panels to generate power, energy-saving LED light fixtures that reduce the amount of cooling required, and high-performance glass to allow in more natural light while minimizing solar heat gain and glare. Prairie plantings connect the site to nature and also reduce upkeep with low-maintenance landscaping. “They really pushed the envelope in exploring and utilizing great sustainable design features, especially on the energy side,” marvels one judge.

An online building automation system allows students to login to see how the mechanical functions work. “The best sustainable projects are where all the systems integrate into a comprehensive building design,” notes one CDA judge. “They did a good job with geothermal and solar and other systems, but also with the glazing and the connection of the indoors and outdoors. There was an interest in providing an interface with students so they can actually see how the building is working.”

Project credits

Location: 6273 Woodland Drive, Waunakee, WI 53597
Owner/Developer: Waunakee Community School District
Architect: Eppstein Uhen Architects
Construction Manager: J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.
Engineers: Sustainable Engineering Group LLC (geotechnical engineer); Fredericksen Engineering Inc. (mechanical engineer); Muermann Engineering LLC (electrical engineer); Point of Beginning Inc. (civil engineer); Pierce Engineering Inc. (structural engineer)
Photography: C&N Photography
Completion Date: August 2016



Fiskars Americas Headquarters

Best New Office Development

When a company’s products are imagined, tested, and marketed all under one roof, its building must be designed to promote teamwork with smarter workspaces and collaboration areas. Such is the case for the new Fiskars Americas headquarters in Middleton. The 108,000-square-foot structure not only provides a new headquarters for Fiskars’ operations in the Americas, it was designed to foster creativity and innovation.

Fiskars is a global company with corporate headquarters in Helsinki, Finland, and the CDA judges believe the building truly reflects the company’s brand heritage. The history of the company and its products are told through bold graphics displayed throughout the building.

Upon entering the structure, a large open atrium connects all floors, reinforcing a team concept. Using informal furniture, collaborative gathering places are dispersed throughout to support the connective and communicative nature of the new environment, which allows for impromptu discussions of products and promotions.

One judge praised its clean, inviting, and contemporary design, and also referred to it as forward thinking. “They did a good job expressing their corporate identity in a subtle way — nothing over the top,” notes the judge. “This is a sharp design.”

Designers took advantage of natural views on one side, while establishing an urban presence on the other side. The building and its design laboratory is sited to reinforce the corner of converging streets at Deming Way and Discovery Drive, as well as to take advantage of views toward Pheasant Branch Creek north of the building. Broad windows open with views onto this natural feature and to an adjacent, tree-lined bicycle trail. Sustainability also is served by reducing use of energy through an efficient thermal enclosure and by bringing in more daylight while limiting glare.

To make efficient use of the site, the master plan separated the office building from parking by placing a ramp directly across the street with a pedestrian bridge overhead. Since the bridge delivers employees to the second floor atrium space, all levels of the building are easily accessible from the parking structure. “The most important feature is the pedestrian bridge,” opines another judge. “It’s a connection point between the two buildings and its architecture is integrated with the building design. It’s a symbol for the connectivity they are representing. They want to be a good partner in the community and the architecture projects this.”

Project credits

Location: 7800 Discovery Drive, Middleton, WI 53562
Owner/Developer: The Livesey Co.
General Contractor: Newcomb Construction Corp.
Architect-Building Design: KEE Architecture Inc.
Architect-Master Planning: Flad Architects
Interior Design-Architectural Finishes: KEE Architecture Inc.
Interior Design-Furniture: Affordable Office Interiors
Engineer: Newcomb Construction Corp.
Photography: C&N Photography, Fiskars Brands Inc.
Completion Date: August 2016



Aprilaire Technology Center Remodel

Best Office Renovation

When you’re remodeling a technology center, a primary motivation is appealing to the young generation of workers. That’s certainly the case with Aprilaire, a division of Research Products Corp. in Madison, which has given new life to an antiquated facility on Ingersoll Street.

Aprilaire uses the 10,475-square-foot building to house lab equipment for product testing. With the remodeling work, the company wanted to double its current office size and modernize the character of its space to attract and retain a growing staff of 50 young professionals who work there.

“The night-and-day difference between the old and the new is the biggest strength of this project,” says one judge. “The interiors are fun and breathe new life into the building.”

The renovation was a materialistic undertaking. New Nichiha brand fiber cement panels and stone from the front section were wrapped around the face of the building. New exposed steel and glulam wood entrance canopies help define the main entrance and new employee entrance, with a stone base and fiber cement panels above to freshen up the exterior.

Exterior materials such as stone and wood were also brought into the interior, and with the building owner’s willingness to move away from a traditional office layout, a unique environment now exists for staff and visitors.

The floor plan was developed around core and circulation, but given the company’s desire to keep several existing rooms where they were, designers were challenged to provide a blend of enclosed offices and open workstations. The solution was to have the core become a gently curving space containing the existing restrooms, conference room, and janitor’s closet.

The geometry of laying out workstations along the curve allowed for a clear circulation path — the entry lobby and break room serve as anchor points to the curving path — and opened up the office for more daylight. Where the curving geometry intersects with workstations, opportunities are created for in-between spaces.

“The exterior is very traditional, and they did a nice job using materials, but it’s even nicer on the interior,” notes one judge. “They could have enlivened the space with more color, but it’s a nice, restrained project.”

To encourage employees to bike to work, the floor plan provides new bathrooms and showers along with a bike storage room.

Project credits

Location: 130 S. Ingersoll St., Madison, WI 53703
Owner/Developer: Research Products Corp.
General Contractor: J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.
Architect: Shulfer Architects LLC
Interior Design Architect: Danielle Hanlon
Landscape Architect: Ken Saiki Design
Engineer: MP-Squared Structural Engineers LLC
Photography: Chad Renly (C/R Prints & Photography LLC)
Completion Date: February 2016



Best Western Premier Park Hotel Renovation

Best New Development or Renovation–Hospitality

By mid-decade, the only hotel on Madison’s Capitol Square was in need of renovation, not only because of its long history and unique location, but also to enable the Best Western Premier Park Hotel to bring new elegance to weddings and family and company events.

The original Park Hotel was built in 1871 to support state government and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and its 2016 remodeling has enabled it to become part of a select group of refined international Best Western properties.

“From a design perspective, the before-and-after comparison, they took great pains to make the building fit into the surrounding context in a successful way,” states one CDA judge. “The new building paid more attention to detailing.”

The extensive 10-month interior and exterior renovation unified the exterior appearance of the 170,000-square-foot hotel and its three distinct additions, and it updated the interiors to become a comfortable, modern space. As the building rises, the designers’ challenge was to weave the horizontal and vertical elements of the three existing structures into one cohesive building. The new design includes a three-story base addition at street level with traditional materials such as limestone, black granite, and bronze-finished aluminum to heighten visual interest. First floor storefront fenestration improves visibility into the hotel, helping to activate both Carroll and Main streets. At the hotel entrance, which features a distinctive marquee, a new corner entry was created for The Post, the hotel’s reimagined restaurant and bar.

Inside, a design-for-place philosophy led to elements such as large murals on each floor depicting downtown Madison throughout its history, a glass mosaic of Madison’s modern skyline, and elaborate elevator gates repurposed from the State Capitol.

The extent and quality of the renovation allowed the hotel to move from the Best Western Plus designation to the upscale Best Western Premier title. “They did a nice job of taking mismatched pieces on the exterior and bringing them together as a cohesive whole,” notes another judge. “I thought the three-story piece had a nice street-level façade, and the interior is very lovely. With the banquet spaces, they did a good job of keeping a traditional feel while making them elegant and inviting, and the interior use of color is very nice. There is a sparkle to it.”

Project credits

Location: 22 S. Carroll St., Madison, WI 53703
Owner/Developer: The Mullins Group
General Contractor: Klein Construction SW LLC
Architect/Interior Design: Destree Design Architects Inc.
Engineer: Pierce Engineers Inc.
Photography: Tricia Shay Photography
Completion Date: August 2016




Best New Development or Renovation–Restaurant

When it comes to building redesign, this is one Lucille that has very little ’splainin’ to do, but there is a backstory worth knowing. In transforming a building with industrial structural qualities into an upscale Madison bar and pizzeria, architects transitioned to a delicious reuse of a century-old brick building at the intersection of King and Pinckney streets, the apex of one of Madison’s signature triangular blocks.

Originally a 1900s-era bank, the structure has undergone multiple renovations throughout its 100-year history, often sacrificing characteristics that were originally hallmarks of the building. The latest makeover was driven by a desire to restore the building’s historical connection to the Capitol Square
in keeping with the King Street neighborhood’s evolution into a vibrant entertainment district. “They took a nondescript building and strategically stepped it back and inserted a new space,” marvels one judge. “The use of materials was very elegant.”

Given the building’s location, designers felt it was extremely important that the building be open and visible from the outside. The design features windows that open to the sidewalk in warm weather months, allowing patrons to interact with pedestrians, and creates a relaxed atmosphere matching the neighborhood ambiance.

The majority of the main floor offers views to the 27-foot-ceiling and a second-floor balcony through a triangle-shaped opening. “It’s a beautiful restoration,” states one judge. “I like the way they brought it back to life by letting so much light into the space. It really opened up that space, making it more inviting. It has a more contemporary feel with railings, and the use of brick on the interior warms it up.”

Another judge compared the new building to a well-tailored garment because it acknowledges its role in the neighborhood. “They took great care with materials, which are among the great attributes of the building,” the judge opines. “They created a feeling of authenticity, which is often missing on other buildings. It’s a fun, elegant place.”

Project credits

Location: 101 King St., Madison, WI 53703
Owner/Developer: Urban Land Interests
General Contractor: Ideal Builders
Architect/Interior Design: OPN Architects
Engineer: Strategic Structural Design
Consultant: Distillery Design
Photography: Mike Rebholz, Zac Dettinger
Completion Date: May 2016



Columbus Community Hospital Surgery Center Addition and Renovation

Best New Development or Renovation–Health Care

What do a 30,000-square-foot addition and a 20,000-square-foot renovation have in common? They both are part of the same award-winning project that helped transform a community hospital serving Columbus, Wis.

Prior to this transformation, Columbus Community Hospital was beset with compromised patient flow, an outdated surgery wing, and inadequate landscaping and exterior environmental controls. With this modernization, the facility is not only well equipped for existing critical care needs, it can now support a future expansion of services.

The two-story addition houses the new surgery center, while the renovation was undertaken to upgrade existing hospital and clinic space. “It provides a new face to the hospital and the community,” says one judge. “A good aspiration for a health care facility is to make it more about health and less about medicine. This facility appears to do so.”

Columbus Community Hospital is a 25-bed acute care facility with both inpatient and outpatient health services. The surgery center addition includes three operating rooms, an endoscopy suite, decontamination areas, 10 prep/recovery rooms, and post-surgery consultation rooms. Since the grand opening of the surgery center, the hospital has experienced a 12% overall increase in surgeries performed, with a total of 1,831 inpatient, outpatient, and small-procedure surgeries.

“This project was very nicely done — very functional and yet very up-to-date,” observes another judge. “It’s very inviting, welcoming, and warm, which is important in health care.”

The project was completed in 13 phases — and some sub-phases — to maintain 24/7 operations. The entire site was reworked to allow for better traffic flows and the separation of emergency and pedestrian traffic, plus resurfacing of parking areas and upgrades to exterior lighting and landscaping. The key sustainability feature is a newly built storm water retention pond to prevent water run-off from the hospital campus; CCH now retains 100% of storm water on site. A building energy model was completed to ensure the building shell is energy efficient, metals were recycled, and other materials were repurposed.

While the surrounding community would no doubt approve of the project’s neighborly consideration, judges emphasized addressing the psychological needs of patients. “It goes in the right direction for hospitals,” notes one judge. “Overall, it’s a great new face for the health care industry.”

Project credits

Location: 1515 Park Ave., Columbus, WI 53925
Owner/Developer: Columbus Community Hospital
Architect/Interior Design: Flad Architects
Design Builder: Vogel Bros. Building Co.
Engineer: KJWW Engineering
Consultant: JSD Professional Services Inc.
Photography: Mike Rebholz
Completion Date: March 2016



Cask & Ale

Best New Development or Renovation–Retail

State Street has many attractions, but until Cask & Ale opened its doors last August, that great street did not offer a true whiskey bar experience. A modern take on a classic tavern, the 1,600-square-foot bar offers a welcoming destination to residents, Overture patrons, and the downtown business community, and our CDA judges were quite intoxicated by it, as well.

They aren’t the only ones. The maximum capacity of the space, formerly Paul’s Club, is 120, and that capacity has been reached on a regular basis since the bar’s opening. Dubbed “a real bar” by another local publication, its patrons have a refined choice for enjoying more than 300 types of whiskey, craft cocktails, and local beers in a relaxed and welcoming environment.

Much of that is the result of project designers, who incorporated an impressive mix of materials and detailing, including bricks and lantern lighting. The space takes its cues from the dark Mission oak casework, which is complimented by a beautiful zinc bar top and large banquettes for seating. The tin ceiling adds an element of complexity and depth — what one CDA judge calls “a good tactic” — and the use of a front NanaWall “glazes” a trail and contributes to State Street’s energy.

“It was a friendly, traditional take on a bar with a lot of interesting materials,” notes one judge. “It’s what people like about going to an establishment like this. It’s a pretty inviting space that keeps the tradition going.”

Another judge says designers took “the craft of whiskey” and extended it into the interior space. “Whiskey always takes on the taste of the cask it comes from, so you get a sense of the taste,” the judge notes. “These surroundings rub off on you in a similar way. It’s the character of the place in which the whiskey was aged.”

Our third judge echoes those sentiments, offering praise for the overall detailing and texture of the back bar. “It would be a place I’d want to hang out and go visit,” the judge says. “If someone said let’s go have a drink, this is the kind of space you want to go and have a scotch.”

Project credits

Location: 212 State St., Madison, WI 53703
Owner/Developer: Kenneth Boll
General Contractor: Supreme Structures
Architect: Kahler Slater
Photography: Hannah Heise
Completion Date: July 2016



Meet the judges

Pamela Bakken Anderson, AIA, LEED AP, Partner, 292 Design Group, Minneapolis

As a partner and project manager with 292 Design Group for the past eight years and an architect for over 27 years, Anderson directs the firm’s public projects with a strong attention to detail and maintaining client relationships. She has experience in diverse multiuse facility types, including educational, religious, civic, and recreational facilities. Her work includes master planning, facility programming, design, and documentation for projects ranging from small addition/renovations to complex multimillion dollar new construction.

Robert Maschke, FAIA, Robert Maschke Architects

Robert Maschke Architects, an AIA Ohio Gold Medal Firm, is a regional practice located in Cleveland, Ohio. Robert Maschke established RMA in 1997 focused on the implementation of quality design and service provided to its clients. Since that time, the firm has been responsible for a wide range of higher education, civic, cultural, and residential projects. Many of these buildings have been published internationally and have been recognized by receiving national, regional, and local design awards by the American Institute of Architects.

Victor Sidy, AIA, LEED AP, Managing principal, Victor Sidy Architect

Victor Sidy, AIA LEED AP, is an architect, planning and development consultant, educational leader, and advocate for quality in the “built environment.” He served as head of school and dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in Scottsdale, Ariz. and Spring Green, Wis. between 2005 and 2015. Sidy also hosted a television series on architecture for EMG Satellite Television that aired for two years, and he has served on a variety of national and international design juries.

Plan now to enter the 2018 CDAs

The annual Commercial Design Awards celebrate the best commercial building projects and designs from Greater Madison architects, engineers, and builders. The April 2018 CDA presentation, for projects completed in 2017, is already underway.

Next year’s program will mark the CDAs’ 11th year, and once again we will recognize a Project of the Year, a Best Green-Built Project, and a first-place winner in several categories. The categories will be listed online by the end of April, and 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 panel of judges.

For renovation entries, 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 April 2018 (date and location to be determined) and will be featured in the April 2018 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 2017 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.