It's a question anyone who spends time on Madison's Capitol Square has probably heard, if not asked: "What are they doing to that building?" But amazingly, hardly anyone has asked it of the folks who know.
For the past few months, work crews have been transforming U.S. Bank Plaza ("Glass Bank"), acquired last year by Urban Land Interests. The sloped glass fronts have been replaced with cube-like structures with energy-efficient glass and insulated flat roofs. New heating and cooling equipment and high-speed elevators have been installed, and a six-story widening of the south wing of the building is being built.
The renovation will add about 20,000 square feet. And it's expected to reduce energy costs by over $300,000 a year.
ULI's Brad Binkowski says the original sloped glass windows proved to be "kind of a bad idea." They had no insulating value and pulled in huge amounts of heat, so that "the energy costs were outlandish." He calls the rehab "really an example of what you can do to transform an energy hog into something that's state of the art."
Moreover, the new flat roofs will function as terraces, hopefully in time for the first Concerts on the Square program on June 24.
U.S. Bank Plaza, built in 1972, was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago, whose other credits include the Sears Tower and John Hancock Building. At the time, it was considered visionary, a national prototype.
Binkowski is excited by the chance to "make a masterpiece better. We're improving on what I think is a terrific building."