University of Wisconsin-Madison

a landmark for interdisciplinarity

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery

The goal of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (WID), located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, is to inspire world-class convergent research across a wide array of engineering and science disciplines in a distinctive, collaborative setting. The 300,000 SF building is designed to attract researchers and spark discoveries toward solving society’s most complex biomedical challenges.

The building houses the private Morgridge Institute for Research, the public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and the Town Center, a welcoming community space. The architectural challenge was to imagine a new research environment to promote the highest levels of collaborative interdisciplinary research. The building’s site situates WID among Madison’s major civic and cultural venues, and its design positions WID as an international research hub.

key information

Surrounded by heavily traveled streets, the design concept takes a conventional building with an internalized atrium concept and inverts it – essentially placing the building inside a wintergarden, creating a true town center that attracts people from the broader campus community.

Unlike typical research environments, WID’s research floors are designed as neighborhoods and without corridors, producing an open environment that continuously reinforces the collaborative paradigm. Floors are inter-connected with multiple stairs and are visually connected with the ground floor town center through two fully-glazed atriums that extend the collaborative continuum.

"We assembled an extraordinary team to challenge the conventional wisdom about how a lab project should be done, what had to be in a lab building, and how it must be assembled."

George E. Austin Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, Building Project Director

R&D Magazine

Lab of the Year

U.S. Green Building Council

Innovation in Green Building Award


Regional Technology Award

ASHRAE Madison

Technology Award

American Council of Engineering Companies

Engineering Excellence Award

American Institute of Architects Wisconsin

Merit Award

Construction Owners Association of America

Project Leadership Award, Gold

Wisconsin Green Building Alliance

Focus on Energy, Award of Excellence

In Business Madison

Project of the Year

In Business Madison

Best Green-Built Project

In Business Madison

Best New Development

Wisconsin Daily Reporter

Best in Show

Wisconsin Daily Reporter

Top Project

Madison Trust for Historic Preservation

Future Landmark Award

Pro AV Spotlight Awards

Best Education AV Project

Digital Signage Expo

Apex & Content Award