The University of Wisconsin College of Engineering wanted a new facility that would promote interdisciplinary activity. The Engineering Centers is a multi-disciplinary interactive teaching and learning facility. Functional space includes research labs and cleanrooms, offices, student shop and project spaces, and smaller presentation spaces for graduate and undergraduate students.
The building serves as a place of interaction not only between engineering students and faculty, but also between the engineering school and the campus at-large. Circulation is organized to draw outside pedestrian traffic through the first level, where the engineering systems and internal workings of the building are partially revealed and student projects are displayed.
The main floor is a dramatic public space with a soaring three-story atrium above, which is highlighted by a full-height glass wall. The ground level of the atrium houses the Discovery Center, an open shop area where student projects are produced, and Innovation Center, which includes woodworking, metal and welding shops; an electronics lab; classrooms; a canoe bay; and an auto shop for three cars. The canoe bay and auto shop provide the necessary design and fabrication space for the University to compete in national student engineering competitions.
The two upper floors provide large, flexible laboratory space and support offices. Class 10 through Class 1,000 cleanrooms provide the controlled environment for nano- and micro-technology, the biomedical engineering and plasma manufacturing. Laboratory and research space was designed to be ultra-flexible by bringing utilities, exhaust, compressed air, electrical, and chemical connections to the wall portion of the laboratory. This flexible design allows for customization of the laboratory environment based on the researchers’ grant requirements.
The Engineering Centes received the 2004 Golden Trowel Award (Best in Category—Tile/Marble/Terrazzo), the 2003 AIA Wisconsin, Honor Award, and the 2002 Wisconsin Chapter—American Society of Landscape Architects (WASLA), Merit Award.