UW-Madison School Of Human Ecology Bldg Addition

Project Number: #06K2Z

Art Budget: $120,000 (Expected to cover all design and fabrication expenses associated with the project.)

Application/Image Deadline: Deadline has passed; for reference only

Eligibility Criteria: All artists from Arts Midwest region are eligible to apply 

(Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin)

Art Schedule

Design Due: Late Spring/Early Summer 2010

Installation: TBD; pending location

Building Construction Start: Spring 2010

Building Completion: March 2012

Architects: Dorschner Associates Inc., Madison WI, and Sasaki Associates, Inc., Watertown MA


The Campus

The University of Wisconsin is a major research university, nationally and internationally renowned for its academic excellence, resources, faculty, and commitment to undergraduate education. With a student population of over 41,000, the University comprises nine undergraduate schools and colleges, and four professional/graduate schools. The campus has a long tradition of interdisciplinary cooperation and consistently ranks among the top educational institutions in the country.

The School of Human Ecology (http://www.sohe.wisc.edu/) is a small, interdisciplinary school with a proud history of academic scholarship and community engagement that supports better understanding of the complex nature of human interaction and development in a constantly changing social and cultural framework. The distinctive character of the School is reflected in its organizational structure, consisting of four (4) academic departments: Consumer Science, Interdisciplinary Studies, Design Studies, and Human Development and Family Studies. In addition five (5) Research Centers are housed in the School of Human Ecology. Each Center provides a ‘hub’ or an infrastructure for bringing together multidisciplinary scholars and partners from across campus to focus on a common issue, or to explore and create knowledge. The SoHE Centers are: the Center for Excellence in Family Studies, the Center for Financial Security, the Center for Nonprofits, the Center for Retailing Excellence and the Center for Textile Studies. The School is also home to the Preschool Research Laboratory, the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection and the Design Gallery. Throughout its 100-year history, SoHE has established a record of excellence based on an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, research and outreach and consistently ranks in the top five of institutions with similar programs.

The School of Human Ecology Building (SoHE) was built in 1913 as a home for Home Economics and the University of Wisconsin Extension. The building has an interesting history in both its sequence of construction and its initial occupancy. Although instruction of home economics was initially begun in 1903 it was decided to immediately initiate plans for a joint facility to be shared by the Extension Department and Home Economics. While separate funding was secured from the legislature for two buildings, it was agreed to combine the facilities through a plan offered by the University’s planning consultants.

The original design plans generated by Laird and Cret were for a central section running east-west, with a north-south wing on each end. This initial building was successful and filled its dual purpose well for many years. Starting in the 1920s the enrollment in home economics began to squeeze departmental space. The existing School of Human Ecology building is a well-designed and impressive structure that represents a notable historical element on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. The building is located near the top of Observatory Hill and plays a significant role as part of the Greater Mall portion of campus. Equally important is the relationship between the building and its prominent site, which accentuates the building’s visual and spatial presence.

The SoHE site, on Linden Drive, is part of the campus Greater Mall area as defined in the 1908 Campus Master Plan and reiterated in the 2005 Campus Master Plan. As opposed to the campus mall on Bascom Hill, the Greater Mall is more informal in structure and is less axial in nature. This informality is expressed through a naturalistic planting scheme and a diverse range of pedestrian and vehicular passages along the hillside.

The site includes historic landscape conditions that will be maintained. These include two Franz Aust rock gardens, the Presidential Oak, the Euthenics Oak and Rock Garden and an Autumn Purple White Ash cloned from the original cultivar by G.W.Longenecker.

The building is currently listed on the Wisconsin Architectural and History Inventory and is eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Thus the preservation of significant historical elements of the original building will be important to maintain the character of the building, and its eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.

Given growth and changes over the years, the existing historic facilities can no longer provide adequate support for the School’s current and future learning, research and outreach operations. In 2003, the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison marked its 100th anniversary. Here is a link to the school’s rich history which reflects the past and gives insight to the current needs: http://www.sohe.wisc.edu/new/about/history.html

The current SoHE mission statement is:

To understand the complex relationships and interdependence among individuals, groups and families and to improve the quality of life through research, creative innovation, education and outreach.

The design objectives for renovating the existing building and a new addition include:

  • Enhancing the image and visibility of the unique assets and functions of the School including the Design Gallery, the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection and extension/outreach programs.
  • Providing a strong, accessible main point of entry that helps to create a cohesive image for the new, expanded facilities.
  • Providing a SoHE reception area close to the main entrance to welcome students and visitors to the School.
  • Providing convenient drop-off and parking access to support the preschool, educational programs, research and outreach activities.
  • Creating an exciting facility, with effective and intuitive way-finding, that allows SoHE to unfold to its visitors and users, providing journeys of discovery of what SoHE is.
  • Creating a technology-rich environment, including classrooms, conference/meeting spaces, labs/studios, Design Gallery and Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.
  • Promoting interactions between faculty, students and staff within the School with gathering spaces such as study commons, reading rooms, breakout spaces, wireless study alcoves within corridors and a café.
  • Creating multi-functional and reconfigurable spaces that will provide flexibility as the programs and population of the School change over time.
  • Employing strategies throughout the project to achieve the highest practical standard of LEED certification.
  • Creating classrooms, studios, seminar and break-out rooms that encourage active collaboration among students.

The New Facility 

The historic building will be renovated with a transitional entry and commons area linking it to the new 4-story addition [ South Elevation Image ]. This space between the new addition and the historic Philippe Cret building is the central organizing feature between the existing building and the new addition. It is set back from the main façade and transparent allowing the existing historical building mass to be understood. Major interior corridors and vertical circulation paths will also be readily visible from this space.

Specifically, the new entry link is a connector space surrounded by glass curtain walls on the North and South facades. It is a vibrant, four-storied, light filled commons area between the two buildings and will serve as a dynamic and welcoming entry space to the facility. It will also be the meeting place for multiple daytime and evening functions such as a seating area for the Cafe, transitional/waiting spaces for the Student Academic Affairs Offices, a foyer for the Design Gallery, transitional spaces for classrooms and conference rooms, display areas for student and faculty work, the yearly student fashion show, other public events and receptions, and informal gatherings of varying sizes. the Design Gallery, the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, various Departmental reception areas, the Student Academic Affairs Reception area, and the Cafe, classrooms, and conference rooms will all be visible from the interior of the link, albeit on different levels of the central commons area.

The Design Gallery, the Ruth Ketterer Harris Library, the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, the Student Academic Affairs Office, and the main entry are located at the first floor off the new two story volume. The Preschool entry is on the first floor to the west, predominantly entered mainly via the underground parking lot. An alternate entrance is located at the juncture between the 2-story and 4-story elements. The Cafe, student organization meeting spaces, a large lecture hall and the Dean’s Suite are housed on the second floor of the new addition. The third floor houses Design Studies studios and departmental offices. The fourth floor will house the Consumer Science Offices and research spaces, the Human Development and Family Studies Offices and research spaces, the Interdisciplinary Studies Offices and research spaces and all the research centers offices. A plenary conference area is on the fifth floor of the original building.

The exterior expression of the new addition takes its cues from historic details of the existing SoHE building. The design unifies the new four-story addition and the new two-story Preschool while still allowing differentiation of the various components. Key design elements of the building include a) defined classical base, middle, top composition, elevation and massing components similar to the existing SoHE building; b) use of similar materials; c) rich detail on exterior elevations; d) windows and doors with head, sill and jamb details; and e) a syncopated rhythm in window placement that serves as counterpoint to the existing SoHE building.

The existing building consists of a five-story central section with symmetrical, four-story wings on the east and west and faced with buff vitreous brick, limestone trim and a red clay roof tiles. The existing building’s exterior envelope is composed of solid masonry walls with cut limestone and face brick with a moderate amount of detail and ornament. The existing wood and single-pane double-hung windows will be updated with modern, energy efficient windows that are historically compatible with the building.

The new addition consists of a two-story and four-story building with face brick and cast stone, and a precast concrete base. The roof areas consist of a green (vegetated) roof above the Preschool and the double height link and clay roof tiles at the monitor roof and white reflective roofing membrane on the rest of the building. High-performance, energy-efficient, insulated glass storefront windows, door entrances and curtain wall windows will be utilized throughout.

The finishes in the existing building will be retained in areas of historic significance and on exterior walls. This includes plaster, terrazzo flooring, stile and rail wood doors with patterned glass side lights and transoms and wood trim. Typical finishes in both the renovated portions of the existing building and the addition will consist of gypsum board walls with rubber or wood bases, hollow metal doors with side light frames; flush wood doors, acoustic ceilings with gypsum board and carpet. Public areas will have wood paneling or stone in focal areas, stone flooring and decorative lighting. The interior finishes will feature recycled content, low-VOC, and regionally-extracted materials.

In addition to classrooms, offices and studios, the addition contains lab space with fume hoods; climate-controlled spaces, secure storage with high-density shelving for a large textile collection; an art gallery with specialized systems for the display of sensitive textiles; A/V systems for seminar rooms, conference rooms, studios and classrooms; specialized A/V equipment for observation research in the Preschool Lab; a kitchen in the Preschool Lab; and a small cafe.

Throughout the entire complex, corridors will include views into spaces, also called energy centers. These have been designed to encourage student and faculty interaction and collaboration. The energy centers can be found along the central corridor, in the entry link and adjacent areas at all floors; the Concourse areas on the 3rd and 4th floors; and the study area at the east end of the central corridor.

In between these energy centers are a series of landmarks that exist on each floor in the same location and are easily recognizable; these include the main staircase in the new addition, the elevator areas on various floors, and the stairs in the existing building.

The spaces in between the landmarks and energy centers will have display areas for SoHE research work and creative scholarship. These will be expressed both formally as 2D display cases and exhibition areas and informally as windows providing views into the learning spaces to view what is occurring inside. These formal and informal display opportunities will serve as a gallery of SoHE activity throughout the building. The finishes and materials of these areas will be more subdued and allow the color and texture of SoHE to be displayed.

One of the unique calling cards of SoHE is the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. 

The collection is housed within the Center for Textile Studies and serves as a major resource for instruction and research. The Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection is used by a variety of departments, programs and individuals, both from within and outside the school. The users represent interested observers, students in undergraduate classes, graduate students and scholarly researchers. The Reception area for the Center for Textile Studies along with the adjacent Ruth Ketterer Harris (RKH) Library will display a small number of textiles and provide resources and information relevant to the Collection. A classroom area for more structured instruction and the physical collection itself, will allow scholars of all levels controlled access to the actual textile pieces for their research. The Center for Textile Studies consists of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, the RKH Library, Design Studies and the Design Gallery.

Another distinct feature of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies is the Preschool Research Lab with multiple outdoor play areas to accommodate the age range of infant, toddler and pre-school. The Preschool Lab will include separate outdoor areas for infants and preschool age children adjacent to their respective classrooms. These spaces will be designed to engage the creative and observant minds of children through play and interaction with nature and to allow for research observation. Experts agree, “Play is the work of children,” and outdoor space performs a crucial role in early child development. The Preschool will have a Discovery Garden, teeming with plants and other outdoor elements that support motor development and sensory experiences. The Discovery Garden will invite all ages — from infants through school-age children — to learn about the natural environment and to learn about sustainable, healthy practices. Ideas for the Discovery Garden include trees, flower and vegetable gardens, composting bins, rock gardens and native plants along with butterfly gardens, all supporting the local ecosystem.


Specifications For Art Work

The selection committee is interested in artwork that will express the interface of art and life, and yet be distinct from the changing artworks displayed by departments. The committee is intrigued by ideas that explore artworks for the intimate spaces or pass through transitional spaces throughout the new facility, such as the restrooms. The selection committee is interested in artwork that includes elements of texture, color and light. Since textiles and design studies are housed in this facility, artwork that students of these areas could be proud of is of critical importance. They are not interested in iconic sculptures or obvious public art. 


Conceptual Approaches

The selection committee was interested in conceptual approaches that:

  • Use textiles as a metaphor; artwork that brings small bits together into a whole; the weaving together of elements or concepts or creating a conceptual mosaic or fabric.
  • Express a sense of intimacy, revelation and discovery.
  • Honor the rich history of the department.
  • Honors the history of this land—grant college (the School of Human Ecology, not the entire campus).
  • Honors the human experience and/or values the work and research that occurs in this School.
  • Is whimsical and also has a strong sense of design.
  • Creates a space for interaction and supports conversation.
  • Conceptually and visually connects the inside and the outside.
  • Might reinvent historical elements from the original building.

Potential Locations For Art Work

The selection committee is open to both interior and exterior sites along with locations identified by the artists. [ Site Map ]

Potential interior spaces include:

  1. At the upper levels third and fourth floors at the Link: approximately 22'h x 26'w. Above the entry vestibule: approximately 12'h x 16'w. [ image ]
  2. Another consideration in the Link is the north wall, which has day-lighting from above: approximately 10'h x 25'w. [ image ] [ image ]
  3. A series of artworks in various intimate locations such as the bathrooms, waiting areas or outside the elevators and/or smaller engagement spaces scattered throughout the facility.
  4. Carpet treatment design.

Potential exterior spaces may include:

  1. Interactive artwork on the Design Gallery glass curtain wall west of the main entrance. [ image ]
  2. Interactive sculpture on the green roof over the Preschool (this is 50' x 60' in an “L” shape). [ image ]

Potential Materials​

The selection committee is interested in materials that support the artist’s concept and are permanent, durable materials requiring low maintenance. The selection committee is interested in artwork that includes elements of texture, color and light. The selection committee would consider a sound installation as a component of a visual art piece.​​