Confidential Corporate ClientMadison, WI
In 2018, PRA was invited to participate in a competition to redesign the campus of an important employer in Madison, Wisconsin. The site consisted of three buildings spaced roughly 150 yards apart around a central landscaped parking lot. Employees could reach each of the buildings by walking outdoors when the weather permitted but would otherwise use a system of underground tunnels encircling the underground parking garages.
The program called for replacing the decaying and underused building that served as the cafeteria and conference center and providing a more equitable distribution of amenities and a more cohesive campus. The remaining western building with its very large atrium would receive minor renovations while the eastern building was to receive a commons area of its own and an updated façade.
The obvious solution to the challenge was to build a new conference center and cafeteria on the site of the old one. But PRA saw the opportunity to build an above ground link between the west and east buildings and eliminate the need for the underground tunnels. To increase the use of the new amenities, they would be placed along this link. The underground parking would be expanded to eliminate the surface parking, and a new beautifully landscaped grounds would be created.
The grounds were designed like a sculpture garden, with a large, glass sheathed Commons to the west and a Solarium to the east beneath an inclined glass cone. The weather in Madison can cause people to stay mostly indoors for 8 months of the year, so all of the new spaces were designed to emphasize natural light and views to the outdoors.
The resulting project was an example of how with a little imagination and a desire for real change an architectural project can be transformative for a business. By avoiding the creation of a new building with an outward focus and creating instead an employee focused ensemble, PRA created a whole new fabric to tie the company together.