Paths of Glory
Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Center
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
A science building's lobby has become the go-to space on the campus of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Flad's Mark Corey and David Black are in the July/August 2017 issue of College Planning & Management with a full explanation of how that came to pass.
The Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex's route from science building to social hub is the result both of astute planning and the reality of an urban campus in need of state-of-the-art space for schoolwork and interaction. The site represented something of a crossroads: Students walking from parking to the heart of the academic center, student union and student housing would traverse an alley along the future IRC site and be funneled across the pedestrian overpass that is one of the few ways to quickly and safely cross North Maryland Avenue. Situating the building and designing it to take best advantage of prevailing conditions, Flad created a ground floor that serves as a pedestrian pathway, indoors and out. A loggia provides a covered walking path during warmer months, and helps efficiently route foot traffic from the student union to the east, through the site and beyond to the rest of the quad. The lobby, which accentuates the linear nature of the corridor's east-west connection using horizontal channel glass, is the main thoroughfare throughout the colder months, as well as a magnet for students all school year long.
The IRC represents the campus's first new academic building in more than a decade, and since opening in the fall of 2015, it has become a "third place" in students' daily lives beyond home and the classroom. While it houses academic and research space for STEM disciplines, provides space for the chemistry department, serves as the new home for the physics department and includes labs for the Zilber School of Public Health, the IRC also attracts engineering, business or mathematical sciences students from adjacent buildings who come over to enjoy snacks purchased elsewhere, sit on the IRC's comfortable furniture and flip open their laptops. Its presence is being felt throughout the campus because of the way it's being used by so many different students.