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Building For Inclusion - Today and Tomorrow

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Designing a new space for your organization can be a tall order. Determining everything from the flow of the building to the number of bathroom fixtures needed for your current workforce can be daunting. Mix in the anticipated needs of your future workforce and you’ve probably stepped into insomnia-inducing work.

Anticipating future needs is exactly what the design team at Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) and Bill Fedun, CUNA Mutual Group’s workplace solutions director, want to do. Together with J.H. Findorff & Son Inc., they hope to create a new amenities building for CUNA Mutual Group that will not only meet the needs of the current staff but the staff of the future as well. The facility is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2022. The main goal of the project was to have a flexible environment that allows for changing needs. “One of the goals for the project is to not just think about current employees but future employees, ones who are not yet in the workforce,” Fedun explains. “Who will be using this building 10, 15, 20 years from now? And how can we create a space that will support them?"

Replacing an outdated circular building at 5810 Mineral Point Road that housed food service, collaboration spaces, and multiuse spaces, the challenge was to include and upgrade everything from the old building into the new space. “We wanted to increase the space that we had in the building for our use to make sure it was not only a place for us to bring customers but a place that could be used by the larger community,” Fedun adds.

Fedun detailed how nonprofit groups have regularly used the amenities building at no charge for their events and meetings, and the resulting design includes many features CUNA Mutual Group will need as it grows. The project includes a new dining facility, auditorium, customer exchange center, an enclosed collaboration area, and a year-round rooftop terrace.

There are movable walls to expand collaboration spaces, telescoping seating in the auditorium to allow for different types of meetings and arrangements, bathroom fixture and elevator cab counts that exceed code minimums, and thoughtful upgrades such as added wellness rooms and breastfeeding areas.

Most notably, the space includes improvements that specifically include a diverse workforce. All-gender bathrooms are available on every floor, a footbath has been included in a wellness room to accommodate a prayer ritual that necessitates cleansing of the feet, and the entire design was reviewed by Access to Independence to ensure accessibility to all physical abilities. Even the lighting and wall graphics were evaluated to ensure they weren’t distracting to some members of the workforce.

The team is particularly proud of one of the buildings’ major design features — a cascading monumental stair that extends from first to the fourth floor encased in an all-glass atrium. The staircase is illuminated to cast a glow in the dark days of Wisconsin winters. “We prioritized transparency and kept the architecture quiet to allow the activity of the people and things going on inside the building to shine,” explains Jennifer Herr, senior interior designer associate with EUA of Milwaukee. “The staircase faces the campus and acts as kind of a best-kept secret or element of surprise to campus visitors.”

Kimberly Hazen
Greater Madison InBusiness

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