A Family of Quality Publications Celebrating the Place We Call Home
By Alison Fiebig & Tom Pilcher
A building is just bricks and mortar, right? Wrong. It’s easy to pass over a paint job, fail to notice Grecian white pillars or take for granted a recycled copper roof. But buildings tell us tales about the past and give us a peak into the future.
Every year, our readers nominate architectural standouts in and around our community and we reveal the untold stories behind these structures.
In our fifth annual Great Spaces, Great Places (GSGP) contest, it’s simply serendipitous that we have added a fifth category to the mix––Best Place of Worship. Year after year, churches are nominated in our Best Existing and Best Historic Landmark category, so, with the support of our judging panel we created a category to reflect this popular group.
As moderator for the fourth consecutive year, Greg Douglas, vice president of design/build services at Miron Construction, established a blueprint of unique characteristics for the judging criteria.They include: accessibility, site impact, materials, relevance, purpose and influential factors on the environment and occupancy.
Without further ado, here are the 2010 GSGP winners.
U.S. Venture, Inc., Corporate Headquarters, Kimberly
In a time when businesses are faced with the decision of staying or going, US Venture, Inc. made the decision to stay and support the economic value of the Fox Cities. The family-owned business, which opened as Schmidt Oil in the early 1950s, was determined to keep its hub in the Heart of the Valley.
The $9.5 million corporate office, located at 425 Better Way in Kimberly, opened in June 2010.
The longtime Fox Valley employer enlisted Hoffman LLC, Appleton, to design and build the new, three-story structure. Measuring in at 59,000 square feet, US Venture pulled out all the stops to achieve a sustainable headquarters that would merge multiple business divisions previously scattered at different sites.
“With the new building, we have the ability to stay up on the business of each department,” explains Jeff Van Brunt, director of strategy and marketing at US Venture. “People are meeting associates from other divisions now.”
It was essential that Hoffman worked directly with US Venture associates to achieve a building that met the needs of every employee. Likewise, the building satisfies environmental standards––Gold LEED standards, to be exact.
“There were several very focused periods of the project where we were directly engaged with the associates to talk about design influence,” says Randy Bremhorst, project principal at Hoffman. “Along the way, we continued to accommodate their need to know and understand the building so it was not only consistent with the cultural goals, but goals for improving the delivery of their business.”
Bremhorst also added that this building was needed to reflect US Venture’s “healthy identity” in the community. “This has been an opportunity for them to be more visible with their values in a physical environment,” he says.
With the help of Urban Evolutions, Menasha, the building features reused and reclaimed materials, like the wood roof deck that is made from timbers salvaged from a marina in western Wisconsin, interior wood panel lining from pickle vats at a Green Bay factory and re-sawn maple timbers recovered from the original Thomas Edison factory in New London.
High-performance windows provide generous daylight, yet reduce glare and heat loss.
“From the road, this building is very appealing,” says Kathy Skog, GSGP judge. “They mix material, and it just fits.” The judges praise the project for its use of space, knowing that the company seeks to establish a prairie grass setting around the property. The site boasts a unique setting of both wetlands and woodlands that will eventually support native plants.
“This is a building you don't see everyday,” adds fellow judge Karl Volkman.
Jefferson Elementary School, Menasha
Over the years, the bedrock and mortar of Jefferson Elementary School’s have been decorated with chalk, paint, eraser flecks and paper scraps. The school building was built in 1932 to relieve overcrowding in Menasha’s Fifth Ward School. It was designed by Foeller, Schober and Berner of Green Bay, who gave the school the appearance of a Tudor-Gothic and Elizabethan-style English manor house.
It was George Banta Jr., president of the city’s park and recreation board at the time, who persuaded the school board to build Jefferson on its present site, sharing the site with Jefferson Park. It was constructed at the cost of $125,000 and provided needed local employment during the Depression.
At the time, the building earned esteem for its unconventional design. The kindergarten room featured a fireplace, fishpond and gabled two-story house facade at one end and a small kitchen and dining room area.
The judges were fond of the exterior limestone and clean lines of the design. “This was unique at the time it was built,” indicates judge Karl Volkman. “There are no odd additions, making it stand out architecturally.” Other judges salute the structure for maintaining its authenticity and serving all these years as a schoolhouse.
Miron Construction, Neenah
A community leader in construction, Miron Construction, Neenah, wins “Best Changes” this year for its office addition and building renovation.
The fast-growing company was outgrowing its space, which was built in 2002. Completed in just 12 months, two, two-story wings extending to the east and west added office space, a health and fitness hub, conference rooms and a training center. The $10 million project added 51,000 square feet, bringing the total size of the building to 112,000 square feet.
Miron served as its own general contractor and hired William Wenzler & Associates-Architects, Inc., of Chicago, for design.
The expansion introduced new materials to the building, including wood that was recovered from the bottom of Lake Superior. The wood, which comes from logs that were once part of the shipping industry years ago, is used in several areas of the new facility, such as flooring for the bridges that connect the old facility to the new additions.
Another unique feature is glulam wood roof structures shaped in an inverted-arch design.
The judges voted based on this criterion: Where did the building start and where did the architect take it?
“It’s almost like the new ‘arms’ of the building are opening up to say, ‘Here I am!’” says judge Tom Miller. “It didn’t really have the wow factor before the changes. Even though it was only an addition, it’s a total makeover.”
Main Hall, Lawrence University, Appleton
This year, the judges turned their eyes north from last year’s winner (Neenah’s Doty Cabin) to follow the light emanating from the cupola of Lawrence University’s Main Hall. It wins Best Historic Landmark.
Lawrence was officially founded in 1847, and six years later, construction began on the all-purpose, main campus building. Main Hall initially contained the liberal arts school’s classrooms, laboratory, library, administrative and faculty offices, dining room, chapel, and even the students’ living quarters.
Over the years, the stone-faced, neoclassic building has witnessed a bevy of changes. The chapel where the school held a memorial service for Abraham Lincoln is long gone; the fourth floor meeting rooms where literary societies held debates and orations in the 1800s have since turned into classrooms; and the old rooftop chimneys were swapped for the building’s iconic cupola.
For a 157-year-old building, Main Hall has weathered the years well. Lawrence alums and Fox Citians alike recognize the Grecian porticos and white pillars that greeted several generations of students since construction during the tenure of University President Samuel Plantz.
“This is an icon in the Valley,” says Miller, who is most impressed by its longtime value and identifiable characteristics.
Today, Main Hall houses a computer lab, classrooms and faculty offices. And now the College Avenue building can add one more title to its long, storied history: that of “Best Historic Landmark.”
Zion Lutheran Church, Appleton
It’s no secret that places of worship contain some of the most interesting architectural elements in the Fox Cities.
Though all of this year’s Best Place of Worship entrants impressed the judges, the massive steeple and clock of Appleton’s Zion Lutheran Church’s really stood out from the pack with its strong emphasis on history and community. “Even among old, historic churches, Zion is a gem,” says Douglas.
The 163-foot-tall building sits on the site of the congregation’s very first building, which was erected in 1884. By 1902, when the church was built, the congregation’s size had grown significantly and worshippers needed a new building. Built to fit the existing land, the church is actually a little too short for its width, but the column-less interior design makes the inside appear larger than it really is. The steeple’s clock was added in 1924 and paid for by the church’s members.
“This is the kind of structure that makes you realize that we have some buildings that should be seen,” says Miller.
Since being built, Zion Lutheran has been kept in tip-top shape. The church has had no major renovations, except for some redecorating work and minor cosmetic changes. Though many other churches have swapped their old buildings for more modern ones, today’s visitors to Zion Lutheran experience the beautiful stained glass work and wood altar just as earlier visitors did.
Part of the building’s appeal is the seldom-seen Victorian Gothic architectural style. Popular during Queen Victoria’s reign, the dramatic, sweeping archways and grand steeples declined in popularity after the turn of the 20th century. Zion Lutheran is one of the few churches left in the area to show remnants of the style, and it also boasts the tallest steeple in the city of Appleton.
“Churches are nostalgic, and this old church evokes old times,” says Christa Vogt, GSGP judge. “Back then, a church was the community.”
© Fox Cities Magazine - all rights reserved
site by: Green Bay Net