Design Process

The Discovery Building is designed to create a vibrant, flexible and inviting environment that will foster impromptu meetings among scientists; form new research alliances; facilitate ideas and breakthrough discoveries that benefit the world; and engage the public in the sciences and arts in new and unexpected ways.

During the design phase of the building, which began in late 2006, planners held more than a dozen focus groups, meetings and informal discussions involving hundreds of people. These participatory events were organized to ensure the building design process was inspired and informed by the insights of faculty and staff from across the UW–Madison campus, as well as local community and business leaders.

Key design goals for the building included:

  • Fostering interdisciplinary research collaboration;
  • Creating a vibrant Town Center;
  • Integrating a teaching and research community; and 
  • Ensuring sustainable design: The project’s leaders and architects are seeking LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council to ensure the institutes meet the highest standards for environmental responsibility and occupational health.

Town hall meetings

UW–Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) hosted a series of campus town hall meetings in the fall of 2007 to inform the university community about the building plans for the institutes.

At the meetings, attendees learned about the facility’s public and retail venues; wet and dry labs; educational outreach space; and social areas to encourage collaboration. They also viewed architectural models and artists’ renderings of the plans.

Building Breakthrough Collaboration

An incomparable vision to make things better forms the foundation of this facility. The purpose of advancing the state of humankind fortifies every element of its design. Download a PDF brochure detailing this breakthough building.