MILWAUKEE — As the first academic construction project for the campus in 20 years, the new Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM) will provide students with the modern facilities needed to thrive and advance in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The $80 million facility, set to open in early 2015, is the first project of the school’s master plan to reprogram the southeastern section of the campus and will also serve as the first interdisciplinary building at the university. Designed by Flad Architects, with offices in Madison, Wis., and with Milwaukee-based CG Schmidt serving as contractor, the building is expected to create a new vision for STEM at UWM.
“It’s going to be a gateway to the campus and sets a new tone for architectural signature on the campus,” said Mark Corey, principal architect with Flad Architects. “It allows the campus to see what they want to in the future with the rest of the buildings.”
The five-story, approximately 150,000-square-foot building, constructed with glass metal panels and terra cotta, is the first of three buildings scheduled for the campus aimed at creating more focus on STEM education and research. The three buildings will come at a total cost of $225 million.
“We’re providing a pathway where students can take their classes and take a break between classes in collaboration spaces, get a chance to meet graduate students in science as well as principal investigators in science in hopes that they’ll maintain interest, which was of great importance to the university,” Corey said.
The high foot traffic on the site made it a lucrative and symbolic space to construct the new building, as the site’s first intention is to encourage collaboration between students.
“The building sits on a site that was a crossroads of student traffic, and we want to maintain that crossroads both on the external of the building and the interior of the building,” Corey said.
The design is anticipated to meet LEED Silver certification through the utilization of high performance exterior envelope, heat recovery techniques and storm water mitigation among many other energy efficiency tactics. However, Corey said, the design will attempt to meet LEED Gold standards.
The new facility will revive STEM education by providing much-needed amenities, Corey said. The university was in serious need of state-of-the-art laboratories and collaborative space, Corey said. And though greenhouse space was unable be accommodated within the building, an approximately 9,000-square-foot greenhouse will be adjacent to the research complex in order to meet educational needs.
With a base level of core equipment space for physics and interdisciplinary science, the new facility will be able to attract researchers and research grants to UWM.
“[The building] is clearly used as a recruiting tool as well,” Corey said. “They really struggled with recruiting into their old facility and this building will help them recruit into their new facility.”
Corey said architects also took into consideration the fact that science and scientific technology is ever evolving. By providing ample space and flexibility, the facility will be able to sustain future expansion without construction.
“The laboratories are designed to be quite generic in nature so they can be flexibly changed,” said Corey. He explained that science and equipment are constantly changing so the university designed some of the spaces in the building to be either office or laboratory spaces, “So which ever need comes first, the university can solve.”