Features to Explore

From free science-related activities for drop-in visitors to conferences that draw internationally acclaimed researchers, the Town Center serves as an engaging destination for discovery.

Stunning physical features include water walls and a garden featuring plants that date to the dinosaur age as well as “discovery niches”—hands-on platforms for self-guided scientific exploration. Among other highlights are information kiosks and dynamic media and art installations that create a unique and stimulating environment.
 
Town Center Floor Plan

Dining at Discovery

Dining at Discovery The Town Center includes two public dining venues: Aldo’s Café and Steenbock’s on Orchard. In addition to providing food and drink for building occupants, program participants and visitors, the venues offer opportunities for informal science education programming.
 

Discovery niches

Set in discrete spots throughout the Town Center, the technology-enhanced discovery niches are intended to attract the attention of casual visitors and serve as a destination for planned events. Faculty members, students and private sector collaborators are encouraged to submit ideas and content for the niches to ensure that the themes reflect emerging science.
 

3-D discovery niche

(A)
3-D discovery niche
This niche features rotating exhibits highlighting research at UW–Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research. Currently, information about C. elegans is displayed. The roundworms are the guests of honor this spring because of their special role in science.
 

 

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Mesozoic garden niche

(B)
Mesozoic garden niche
This niche features plants dating to the dinosaur age and also highlights botany research on campus, geologic artifacts and more. The primeval setting—complete with several fossils—features mosses, horsetails, cycads, ferns, tree ferns, palms, ginkgoes, blooming magnolias and conifers.
 

 

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Water walls and Fibonacci chimes

(C)
Water walls and Fibonacci chimes
Three slate water walls with LED lights respond to visitors' movements with light patterns and chimes in the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical ratio found throughout nature, such as in the patterns and spirals of leaves, flowers, pine cones, shells, fish scales, human proportions and single cells. The first two Fibonacci numbers are 0 and 1, and each number that follows is the sum of the previous two. For example: 0+1=1; 1+1=2; 1+2=3; 2+3=5; 3+5=8; and so on.
 

 

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Water clock

(D)
Water clock
Atrium visitors can track time with a unique water clock — a combination of art and water feature that marks time. Four large black rectangular water blocks bubble on the quarter of the hour. The first platform bubbles on the quarter hour, the first two platforms on the half hour, and so on.

 

 

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WisconScience wall

(E)
WisconScience wall
This changing display features information about famous UW–Madison scientists and researchers and reminds us that we are "In a Constant State of Discovery."
 

 

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Fossils

(F)
Fossils
Fossils of creatures that once lived in the ocean can be found in the stone tiles in the floor of the Town Center.
 

 

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Media walls

(G)
Media walls
Two media walls with ultra-high-definition screens respond to movement. Visitors can learn about science and the building, and create interesting visual effects, by interacting with the walls.
 

 

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Penrose tiling

(H)
Penrose tiling
In the center of the forum’s cherry wood floor is an inlaid pattern of Penrose tiling. The different shapes fit together like puzzle pieces but no two sides are the same and the order of the shapes never repeats itself. Mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose investigated these nonperiodic tilings in the 1970s. Former UW–Madison chancellor John Wiley suggested adding this pattern to the floor.
 

 

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