Best Special Project

One West Wilson

Project Description:

The State of Wisconsin Office building located at 1 W. Wilson Street in Madison Wisconsin was conceived in the late 1920s and constructed in three phases: 1932, 1938, and 1958. During each phase, a separate tower was constructed. The tallest structure, eleven stories, was built during the second phase.

The building is a concrete and steel framed structure with a mass masonry wall system consisting of clay tile and brick backup clad primarily with granite from northern Wisconsin. The three towers have connecting buildings which when viewed from the air takes the shape of an E open to the lake looking over Monona Terrace to the Southeast and facing the Capital building to the Northwest.

The granite facade is ordained with beautiful brass doors and fixtures accenting its ground level entrances. The building is also banded with scroll work at many different elevations. On the oldest tower, the scroll work is constructed of terra cotta and in the second and third towers the scroll work is cut into the granite. Further accenting the building is the black window frames and black ornamental steel. The courtyards facing the lake have tan brick elevations.

Time and the elements had not been kind to the historic landmark. The masonry was exhibiting significant deterioration and discoloration. There had been multiple minor restoration projects conducted over the life of the building. Evidence had shown that the earlier restorations utilized many different techniques with varying degrees of success. However, the facade had deteriorated to the point that water and air infiltration was deteriorating the interior surfaces of the building. The plaster and paint inside the building had become a continuous maintenance issue.

All of this deterioration, resulted in a less than optimum working environment for the 1200 plus tenants of the building. It had become increasingly more difficult to maintain the working environment. As well, the constant maintenance of the interior was an ongoing interruption to the operations housed in the building.

The main renovation consisted of the building envelope repairs to approximately 208,800 square feet of envelope surface area of the 1 West Wilson Street State Office Building. Every inch of the exterior surface of the building above grade was to be restored during the project duration. The project includes comprehensive repair to all building masonry joints including pointing of granite, terra cotta and brick masonry joints and complete sealant replacement. The project also includes repairs to the original ornamental steel window frames and spandrel panels, deteriorated embedded steel supports, damaged brick, terra cotta and granite materials, window replacement, and cleaning of brick masonry, granite and terra cotta, partial reconstruction of Unit Two envelope at the eleventh floor window sills, the parapets at the sixth floor including flashing enhancements, Unit Three elevator penthouse brick veneer and Unit One elevator penthouse parapets including flashing enhancements. 



Designing a replacement window / flashing system to fit in the existing steel frames while replicating the original steel sash sight lines posed a unique challenge to the team. Most window replacements involve complete frame removal. The original construction of the this building did not allow for this. The original steel window frames were cast into the mass masonry walls. This window replacement was the second in the buildings history. In the early 1980s, the original steel windows were removed from their frames and operable aluminum windows and frames installed. The 1980s replacement system had reached its functional life many years ago.

The forensic investigations conducted by the state of Wisconsin prior to design had indicated that window leakage was one of the primary causes of water infiltration that has resulted in the deterioration of the mortar systems of the granite, brick, and terra cotta facade. This deterioration then compounded the leakage.

For this project, significant care was taken in the design and installation of the new aluminum window systems to insure that the efforts invested would provide a much higher level of protection from the environment for a much longer lifespan. To accomplish this, the design team went through an extensive investigation. The steel frames are unique and the integration of manufacturers standard window systems would require very careful detail design and construction to insure a successful result. The owner and architect conducted a window manufacturer pre-qualification process prior to bidding the project. The window manufacturers were then allowed to become part of the bid after the architect and the owner were satisfied that they could produce the window systems that would uniquely fulfill the needs of the building.

A double flashing system was determined to be the best solution. A stainless steel flashing system was installed over the historic steel window frames that remained. Over this, a flexible flashing system was installed to further insure proper drainage as well as to provide a thermal break and integration to the new aluminum windows.

During installation, this represented a significant challenge. The window installers were presented with customized installation techniques and procedures. As well, the window manufacturer was challenged with fastening constraints and window frame configurations outside of there normal scope. To insure that the process with the manufacturer went smooth, representatives from the owner, designers, general contractor, and window installers made several trips to the window manufacturers to consult with the management, designers, and builders of the window systems.

Additionally, the installation crews were involved in multiple pre-installation conferences, mockups, and discussions to review the detailed installation procedures.

CONSTRUCTION DURING OCCUPANCY Constructing the project with an occupied building was a significant challenge. The owner and architect planned the project under the premise that up to 100 of the building occupants would be relocated at any given time to protect them from the work being performed on the interior walls of the building. The architect meticulously planned for enclosure systems to further protect the interior habitants of the building from the exterior work. There were several unforeseen challenges that immediately presented themselves to the project team. Together, the owner, architects, tenants, and contractors worked to overcome the obstacles.

WINDOW CLOSURES The window closure originally envisioned, although excellent in purpose, did need significant space within the office environment that would have required that interior furnishings be relocated as well as personnel. The owner and tenants were key to working with the contractors in devising and testing new methods of enclosing the window openings for the necessary refurbishments. The resulting system proved to be much less evasive to the internal environment. As the process worked out, no occupants or furnishings were relocated except for isolated instances. This proved to require significantly less effort on the part of the occupants over the 18 month life of the project.

PLASTER/SILLS After the initial work started on the interior of the building, evidence of more significant damage to the interior of the building became evident. There were a very high percentage of the marble window sills that had cracked and deteriorated over time from the water infiltration issues. Additionally, the inside of the building had been painted with a coating system many years ago that would not allow moisture out of the walls. This accelerated and masked a very significant deterioration of the plaster on the walls within the building. These two items significantly increased the invasive nature of the project to the building occupants. Again, close cooperation between the tenants and the contractors resulted in no occupants being relocated for the interior work as originally planned. This required late shift work, extra cleaning efforts, and close scheduling.

CONSTRICTED SITE The site is bound tightly within an inner city urban environment. The heavy work on the exterior had to be performed without interruption to the access of the facility on daily basis by the 1200 occupants and the visiting public. ADA access had to be maintained on a very tight building elevation bounded by Monona Terrace walk way to the northeast. The contractor accomplished this by reconstructing the entrance and rerouting the pedestrian traffic in a completely new route from the building. Pedestrian traffic was constantly monitored as the project progression around the building was continuously changing the hazard conditions. .

The project was completed without any pedestrian or worker safety incidents.

WATER INFILTRATION The second major cause of water infiltration on the building enclosure was the at the building parapets. There was a very carefully planned reconstruction of the parapets of the building. Each tower constructed in a different phase had three distinctly differing constructions, each with their own inherent strengths and weakness and resultant failures. Early in the project, the team got together and performed additional investigative work at each location. The team was determined to give the building the proper reconstruction of the parapets as warranted by the actual conditions. The scopes were completely reviewed at each location. The effort was very rewarding. The restoration of the parapet of the center tower, the highest and most significant, was redesigned based on the experience of all the team members and the actual conditions encountered. The result was a significant reduction in scope that benefited the budget, schedule, and all members of the team.


LINTEL REPAIRS The Lintels on the brick elevations were scheduled for significant replacement and refurbishment. However, instead of just replacing all of them at a high cost to the owner, the team decided to investigate first. A very detailed survey and documentation process was developed utilizing tablets and real time video and photographic evidence to speed the investi­gation and communication of the actual conditions at every single lintel. This allowed the team to determine from the condition and placement which ones could be repaired, which ones could be replaced and which ones could be kept as is. The result was a forty percent reduction scope of this phase of the work.

BRICK CLEANING AND STAINING Before cleaning the masonry, four different processes and chemicals were tested to insure that the cleaning process would not create unwanted affects to the granite and brick on the building. Specialists were requested to conduct microscopic examina­tion of the results of each process. After extensive research and tests were conducted, the team concluded that only one of the tested chemicals/processes did not exhibit negative effects on the granite and subsequently developed a process to clean the masonry back to it’s original condition.

LEAD PAINT REMOVAL The project specifications required that the black paint on the existing steel window frames of the building be blasted with abrasive media for removal. This was a key element of the re-coating process. The blasting proved to be an incapable process. For safety reasons, all blast media has to be recovered. Although this was capable from the exterior, there proved to be small fissures and passages within the mass masonry wall that were undetectable from the open environment. However, during the initial testing of the blasting process, it was discovered that the pressurized air pushed the debris into the interior crevices of the structure. The architect and owner again worked with the contractors to develop a new process for the re-coating of the steel window frames. This new process utilized needle gun removal which made the debris 100% recoverable.

UNFORSEEN STRUCTURAL CONDITIONS During the restoration of the masonry on the exterior of the building, significant unforeseen structural issues were encountered on the higher elevations of the building. Caused by decades of water infiltration, the steel supporting the granite over the larger windows had deteriorated to the extent that they had to be replaced. This required the removal of significant pieces of granite, the replacement of the steel, and final reconstruction of the granite. The extra work was discovered after the sequence of work had been established. The work had to be completed prior to the core project in order for it to be completed effectively. There was great concern by the project team that significant delays were going to be encountered.

In response, rapid and coordinated plans were put into place to tackle the issue. Additional crews were mobilized to uncover the hidden work for investigation and solutions to be determined by the structural engineers. Then engineers responded with plans almost immediately while rapid response material procurement was put into place. Additional scaffolding systems were installed to tackle the work ahead of the base contract work along with additional and off shift crews. Innovative and custom shoring, rigging, and hoisting equipment was designed and constructed to expedite the work and to minimize the cost impact. In conclusion, the additional structural work was completed ahead

Most significantly, all of the cooperation, careful planning and teamwork generated a project that was significantly ahead of schedule and under budget. The owner had originally envisioned a total renovation of the building enclosure above grade. They knew there were significant enclosure leakage issues below grade as well. All three stories of building below grade needed equal amounts of work to ensure a satisfactory internal environment and to prevent future deterioration of the underground structure and interiors. Due to this advance in schedule the team was able to add to the scope of the project and fix the below grade issues.

So the team began the arduous task of defining all the issues below grade, developing solutions, establishing budgets, implementing procedures and practices, and finally implementing the solutions. All this was done during the last 40% of the project. Amongst the below grade repairs; underground electrical vault leakages, rebuilding of the front stairway systems required to solve below grade leaks and frost heaving, third level basement water infiltration, third and fourth basement level concrete reconstruction, basement level window replacements, and a complete refurbishment of a 25,000 square foot plaza parking deck over two basement levels.

The owner and tenants are adjusting well to their restored environment internally. Only some final painting was left as follow up work after it was determined that prolonged final drying of the plaster walls would result in the best product. This will relieve them of their life in a cyclical maintenance environment. Additionally, their comfort will increase as the temperature and humidity become more stable.

The new windows, repaired and replaced mortar and sealant systems, new flashing systems, and refurbished parapets significantly changed the effectiveness of the enclosure. This will substantially increase the energy efficiency of the building. No longer will the heating, cooling, and dehumidification systems fight the continuous infiltration of the unwanted external environment.

Externally the facade has been returned to it’s former glory. The building envisioned as the host to the state’s staff of department employees again retains a bright appearance on the landscape of the lake as you approach the Capital driving north on John Nolan Drive. The local residents often stopped the craftsmen during the project and complemented them and thanked them for their tireless efforts.

The revitalized State Office Building, now once again adds to the downtown aesthetics that make Madison, Wisconsin a unique place to live and work.

Architect: James G. Otto Architect, LLC

General and Mason Contractor: JP Cullen

WMA Producer/Supplier: SPEC MIX