No. 138 . 12 March 2003 
ArchitectureWeek
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Wisconsin Chemistry

by Katharine Logan

In designing a new research tower and lecture hall for the University of Wisconsin Department of Chemistry, the architects of Flad & Associates were inspired by the scholars who work there. "This is a group of incredibly bright and talented people," says Flad design principal, David A. Black, AIA. "The building is intended as a simple statement about who they are and what they've achieved."

These achievements include two Nobel Prizes and a recent MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as a "genius grant." Yet for years, faculty and students have persevered in 1960s-era buildings with windowless labs and outmoded safety provisions. Now, well ventilated, daylit labs and an elegant new lecture hall provide more inspiring settings for the work of the department.

Occupying most of a city block, the chemistry facilities house graduate and undergraduate research and teaching programs in organic and inorganic, synthetic, analytical, and physical chemistry.

Celebration of Achievement

The new research tower uses verticality as its main metaphor of celebration, according to Black. At every opportunity, design decisions emphasize the tower's lightness and height. On the west facade, dominant vertical fins divide the building's width into tall, slender shafts, while a rhythm of horizontal bands reinforces the impression of height.   >>>

 

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