School of Education Building, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Addition to existing building: School of Education Building, University of Wisconsin-Madison; HGA Architects


The renovated School of Education building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison includes a light-filled commons between the two academic wings. The chilled beam system integrates heating and cooling throughout the new wing and renovated historic wing. CProject name: School of Education Building, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Location: Madison, Wis.

Firm name: HGA Architects

Project type, building type: Addition to existing building, school (college, university)

Project duration: 1.5 years

Project completion date: July 1, 2010

Project budget for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection engineering only: $400,000

Engineering challenges

The six-story, 66,000-sq-ft School of Education building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been a campus landmark on Bascom Mall since it was completed in 1900. In approaching this renovation/addition, HGA sought to restore the original historic character, add a 33,000-sq-ft academic wing, create a new light-filled commons with views of Lake Mendota, and upgrade the building’s mechanical systems. The original HVAC system proposed by the State of Wisconsin RFP asked for a variable air volume (VAV). However, HGA’s research and analysis determined that the building's historic post-and-beam structure and low floor-to-floor heights could not provide adequate ceiling space for a properly designed VAV system. The challenge was to find a system that would fit in the ceiling spaces available.


The building’s structural challenges led to an innovative use of an active chilled beam system. The system requires approximately one-third the supply air of a VAV system, significantly reduces ductwork sizes, and relies mostly on radiant water piped directly to chilled beams to provide heating and cooling. The reduced ductwork sizes allowed the system to fit in the tight ceiling spaces. The active chilled-beam system, in combination with improvements to the building envelope, achieved approximately 35% energy savings compared to building code. The project is the first building in the State of Wisconsin designed with an active chilled beam system, the first state-owned Energy Star rated building, and the first project in the UW system to achieve U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum.

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