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UWM’s Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex: The most distinctive building on campus

The largest building on campus, it was designed by Flad Architects to comply with LEED Gold Certification standards and to meet a wide range of current and future academic needs.

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September 29, 2016 |

A simple system for versatile architectural forms

“It is certainly our most distinctive building on campus,” says Geoff Hurtado, associate vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. “And it signifies the direction in which UWM is headed. We are stepping up from a good university to a great university and in the top tier of the research community.”

This embodiment of greatness is the award-winning Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex, or KIRC, a 141,000 square-foot building dedicated to the advancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The largest building on campus, it was designed by Flad Architects to comply with LEED Gold Certification standards and to meet a wide range of current and future academic needs.

The architects describe the interior as a confluence of “offices, instructional areas, collaborative spaces, multidisciplinary research labs, greenhouses and shared core facilities. A portion of the building [features] facilities for the Zilber School of Public Health that can be shared by other departments. Its indoor pathway is woven into a major pedestrian throughway, seamlessly connecting the building to future phases of the quad and the rest of the campus.”

Outside, the building brings together a stunning variety of design elements – multilayered façades, complex angles, tapered canopies, vertical columns, horizontal grilles, extensive glazing and more. Tying it all together are two principal colors and textures: warm terra cotta tiles imported from Germany complemented by ALPOLIC®/fr fire-retardant materials in a sleek metallic silver finish. ALPOLIC® materials in a secondary, custom color are used on soffits and other exterior details to match the terra cotta tiles. Inside, ALPOLIC® material’s metallic silver finish adorn balconies, stairwells and ceilings.

| A simple system for versatile architectural forms

The ALPOLIC® materials were fabricated by John W. McDougall Co., Inc. (JWMCD), using the company’s Series 400 rainscreen system. JWMCD supplied the fabricated panels to Construction Supply & Erection, Inc. for installation on the building.

JWMCD Project Manager and Field Supervisor Gary Wilkerson describes the Series 400 rout-and-return wet caulk system: “This is our own patented system. It’s a rear-ventilated rainscreen that we’ve been using it for almost 20 years now, so everybody seems to want it. It’s an easy system to install. It’s a male/female system where they marry together, and we put a matching reveal in the joint lines of the pocket that hides all the extrusions.”

The ALPOLIC® materials were field-dimensioned, CNC-fabricated and mounted to the extrusion system at JWMCD’s Nashville, Tennessee plant, then crated and shipped to Milwaukee in 21 truckloads. In total, the project used 52,000 square feet of ALPOLIC®/fr material finished in BSX Silver Metallic and 3,200 square feet in a custom COT Terra Cotta finish.

Wilkerson is impressed with the attention JWMCD receives from the people behind ALPOLIC® materials when it comes to getting the details right and delivering on time. “I’ve worked with several different suppliers, and I’ve never had a problem with ALPOLIC®. Once I’ve ordered the materials, they come in on time. I give the dates, and they hit it. I’ve never had a problem working with ALPOLIC®.”

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