Promega Corporation is a global leader in applied biochemistry and molecular biology. The Madison, Wisconsin–based company boasts a portfolio of more than 3,500 products in the fields of genomics, protein analysis and expression, cellular analysis, drug discovery, and genetic identity. As Promega expanded, it became apparent that a new processing center—the Kepler Center—was needed to plot the movements of Promega’s products from the campus.
As a growing company, Promega wanted this new facility to be able to expand and double in size, explains Steve Wellenstein, project architect with Milwaukee, Wisconsin–based design firm Uihlein/Wilson. “We had to design it as a full building and then pare it down in size so it was the correct size for right now.”
From the beginning, the architect was attracted to metal panels for the project. Metal played well into the concept of modular expansion the owner was looking for. And once the decision was made to use metal panels, the design team knew CENTRIA was right choice.
At 126,000 square feet and 44 feet high, the Kepler Center is massive, but there was a desire to try to downplay its size visually so as not to overwhelm. Bricks were used to illustrate character and add depth. The bricks were used in concert with large windows and multiple types of CENTRIA metal panels to create a textured detail that was large in scale.
“We ran the CENTRIA Super-Rib panels horizontally to help bring down the height of the building and give the illusion of the building having movement across the site, rather than just extruded up,” Wellenstein explains. “The horizontal elements of the canopy and window pattern express this as well. Rather than an entry tacked onto a box, we layered the materials and elements to give the entire design better scale. With the Super-Rib panels, we got nice shadow lines. We also used Econolap panels. Without these, it would have just been one tone and we wouldn’t get shadow lines.”
The entire approach of this project was very team-oriented, with all players involved every step of the way. Uihlein/Wilson led a unique process that kept everyone on the same page throughout.
The team included the owner; the mechanical engineers; a site engineer; a civil engineer; a landscape architect; an architectural consultant; users of the building; Uihlein/Wilson; and Plain, Wisconsin–based Kraemer Brothers Construction, the contractor that worked closely with the design team and the owners from the very beginning. There were many advantages to having everyone at the table for regular updates as the project moved forward.
“For example, if we’re meeting and discussing using metal panels, Kraemer Brothers is there to let us know immediately if that is in the budget. Or if we suggest brick, they are there to let us know that is not in the budget,” Wellenstein says. “That’s why this is good, because we are all updated on what the costs are as we develop what the design is, rather than going through the whole process of design and having everyone be surprised by the costs at the end.”
The Kepler Center opened in spring of 2016. Promega is pleased with its new facility, and just over a year in, it’s already starting to fill up.