05-17-22 | News

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point Chemistry Biology Building

Saiki Design
by Staff

The upcoming School and Campus Design Issue of Landscape Architect and Specifier News saw many firms submit their projects for feature consideration. This project was not chosen for a Feature in the issue, but we at thought the project deserved to be showcased online . . .

The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point is one of the preeminent State of Wisconsin system higher education institutions. The 406-acre campus contains 35 buildings and includes a vast, 280-acre conservancy to further the educational, research and natural resources focuses of campus. The Chemistry-Biology building is the newest addition to the campus and provides state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and offices for the Chemistry and Biology departments and the College of Letters and Science. The project is pursuing LEED Gold Certification.

Fundamental to the project was the notion of "science on display", the idea that occupants and users of the building should be immersed in scientific thinking and discovery and should be surrounded by a built environment that artfully and gracefully supports intentional and unintentional interaction with scientific processes and critical scientific and environmentally-forward thinking. This theme was explored from the very onset of the project and revisited at major project milestones during the nearly five-year long design process, resulting in a dynamic design for the landscape that includes a significant number of custom details.

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Saiki Design led site planning and design efforts from concept exploration through construction documents and construction administration. The team of landscape architects worked at the project's onset with the architects to strategically place the building on the 4-acre site in order to protect and preserve as many of the mature deciduous and evergreen trees as possible, drawing a tight construction envelope around the footprint of the building and producing detailed tree protection and removals plans which included harvesting and milling removed trees into benches for the interior of the project. The site design was organized around a 450-linear foot stone channel that accepts all site and rooftop runoff, disconnecting 100% of impervious site and building surfaces from storm sewer infrastructure.

Highly detailed outdoor amenity spaces are distributed throughout the site. An outdoor teaching classroom punctuates the southeastern terminus of the stone channel and a series of cascading stadium stairs holds the northwestern end. Seating opportunities and smaller gathering spaces mingle along the edges of the stone channel, connecting to the site and the building with boardwalks, sidewalks and specialty pavements. Locally quarried quartzite stone blocks, curb and wall material defines the edges of the space and the interface between paved and planted areas. The stone material was also used as a surfacing material under extensive building overhangs where access to sunlight and water would challenge a plant-based solution. Chimney swift towers were custom-designed and prominently sited atop a grassy knoll.

The overall planting design utilizes a lush palette of native and adapted plants through sweeping meadow areas, shortgrass prairie zones and detailed perennial gardens. Three planted bioinfiltration gardens are filled with native sedges and accented by stone slabs and cobbles. Planting pockets along the building's foundation are filled with species selected to represent the distinct and unique biomes of the region: sand prairies, dry prairies, bracken grasslands, pine barrens, oak barrens and cedar glades.
A modest third-floor green roof space provides additional opportunities to study and interact with the building. Custom-detailed raised planters provide student groups with the opportunity to grow herbs and vegetables or perform isolated experiments. The oval form of the precast paver space provides additional teaching zones and is utilized as a small-group events space.

Design Team
Client: State of Wisconsin Department of Administration
Project Manager and Architect of Record: Potter Lawson
Supporting Architect: HOK
Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering: Saiki Design
General Contractor: Miron
Landscape Contractor: Revi


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