The site was a witness to Madison’s industrial past, where railroad right of ways ran along the shoreline of Lake Monona, and this site was used as a service yard, adjacent to two long warehouses used to store Wisconsin grown tobacco. Our 2000 Master Plan thought about the site as a whole, taking advantage of the views of the Lake and the State Capitol Building, imagining an experience in tune with a City which values both its urban quality and its strong connection to the natural Landscape.
The Tobacco Warehouses were preserved and adapted to apartments by a preservation architect in 2008. Our work on the new building began in 2011.
The site is bounded on four sides by the Tobacco Lofts to the north, the railroad spur, a city park running down to the lakeshore to the south, and Proudfit Street. These boundaries suggested a “U” shaped building with a courtyard facing the lake.
Taking a cue from the old warehouses, the basic forms of the building are bearing walls of brick with a grid of large punched windows. At each corner, metal clad forms are added with large ends of glass; each form frames a view of either the Lake, the Capitol or the University of Wisconsin.
The juxtaposition of the brick matrix, the metal sided forms and the glassy pavilions is ambiguous, until the building is experienced in person, then the meaning of the form is understood to align with the way people think about their city.
Photography © Barbara Karant