Architect: Kahler Slater
Contractor: C.G. Schmidt
The Meadowland Research and Technology Building sits within the Milwaukee County Research Park. The building was commissioned by a local real estate developer who needed to create new office space for a growing software company that resided in one of their other buildings. The developer and tenant wanted to create a contemporary building on a strict budget, yet one that offered amenities and large floor plates. The building is largely influenced by the oddly shaped parcel on which it sits. The site has limited street frontage, and a rear yard that backs up to a tall highway on-ramp, and parking for surrounding buildings occupies both sides of the property.
The design solution broke the mold from the rest of the park by hiding nearly all of its parking behind the building in a single-level parking structure. The structure which backs up to the elevated highway ramp also halves the need for surface parking and creates the opportunity for more green space. The building is roughly parallel, but pulled back from the street, which was required to get the length and width needed for the floor plates. To fit within the wedge-shaped site, the footprint had to bend, and each wing was built perpendicular to the property line, while a slot was created to signify the entry. The bending of the building acts as a welcoming embrace to the front lawn.
The massing and material was intentionally kept simple. It was conceived as a three-story brick mass with a glass top floor. Two glass boxes which cantilever at opposing corners of the building feature a distinctive mullion pattern and are interlocked with the primary massing. The palette is reduced to a charcoal gray (ironspot brick, metal panel and mullions) and transparent glass which creates a cohesive straightforward, but elegant suburban office building.
The multi-tenant building included a modest one-story lobby, shared conference room and a fitness center. The design project extended to include the anchor tenant space - a growing software company which took the top two floors and a large first floor space for socializing in a work café. The tenant has access to an outdoor patio while all tenants have access to the generous lawn in the front of the building. The lawn has become the focal point of the overall business park with a busy bike station and food truck vendors serving lunch. The building is anticipating LEED Silver certification.
Photos: Peter NcCullough