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The Norman: Green Multi-Family Housing
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

In keeping with the developing urban context of the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood, this project took on a number of unique challenges. Because the site lay within the Schenk-Atwood Business District Master Plan area, we expected (and welcomed) extra design scrutiny. For example, we encouraged the owners to create mixed-use and real density for this underutilized parcel (key goals of the Master Plan), which meant a lengthy and interactive design and review process with a vigilant neighborhood association as well as City regulatory commissions. We also wanted to create a corner tower to anchor the building to the main street intersection. To do that we needed to correct an existing poorly-conceived turn lane and extend the nearby bike path (two more important goals in the Master Plan). That took months of negotiations with City officials, a legal swap to the City of a strip of land, and extensive coordination with adjacent street and sidewalk modifications that were underway simultaneously.


above: This project is being constructed in two phases. This photo shows Phase 1 nearing completion.


Concern for the architectural scale, pedestrian character, and the way the building physically relates to the neighborhood led to balconies and front stoops connecting the units to the street, and an interior courtyard with a pass-thru that connects to the bike path. The building massing and design of the facades allows the 39 dwelling units and 8,000 square feet (742.3 M/sq) of office and retail space to appear as three separate structures, softening the impact of its scale.

The project was designed to achieve LEED certification for sustainable construction, and was developed, contracted, and built by local owners The Nelson Group. Energy- and resource-efficient detailing and material selection, low-runoff stormwater management with water-efficient landscaping, an ultra-efficient and versatile heat pump heating/cooling system with a centralized cooling tower, an efficient and non-polluting (hydraulic-free) ‘Ecodisk’ gearless traction elevator all make this project an example of sustainable multi-family design.

below: Site Plan including Phase 1 (left) and Phase 2 (right).
two phases enclose the courtyard

Exhaustive recycling and reuse efforts were also pursued during the demolition of an existing clinic building on site before construction began. The Nelson brothers handled this in characteristically hands-on fashion. They removed the clinic's large electrical service equipment and stored it for re-use. They donated all of the clinic's cabinetry and doors to the local Habitat ReStore and re-used virtually all of the removed insulation to upgrade their other properties. And they arranged for a returned Iraq war vet to take as long as he needed to remove all of the building's face brick in order to build a house for his family.

above: the intersection before construction -- the blank disused brick building and the pedestrian-unfriendly turn lane

below: The design calls for a 'living roof' on a terrace for gatherings off the common room, shaded by photovoltaic panels mounted to a 'solar pagoda' structure

Sketch-up model of the pagoda

Landcape Architecture: Schrieber-Anderson Associates
HVAC Consulting Engineer & LEED Professional: Eric Truelove, PE