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Jun and Sandy Lee Wisconsin Structures and Materials Testing Laboratory
April 15, 2020

Structures lab wins design award

Written By: Alex Holloway

The new Jun and Sandy Lee Wisconsin Structures and Materials Testing Laboratory won recognition for outstanding design in the In Business magazine’s April 2020 issue.

The College of Engineering built the lab, located in Engineering Hall, to expand the ability for students and faculty to carry out full-scale structural specimen tests. It replaces the previously existing lab, which opened in 1984 and will remain in use as part of the new facility. The lab opened in October 2019.

A panel of three industry experts named the structures lab the winner for the Most Innovative Feature category of In Business2020 Commercial Design Awards. The judges considered new buildings from across Wisconsin in the competition.

The lab boasts an L-shaped concrete post-tensioned reaction wall that is 26 feet tall with 10 feet deep buttresses, and a 6 ½-feet-thick post-tensioned strong floor The reaction wall is lined with gridded high-strength anchor points and is complemented by a 20-ton overhead crane that doubles the previous lab’s loading capacity.

All of the lab’s features, carefully designed to serve its purpose for structural engineering research, come together in a striking final product.

“For what it is, it has a clean and very well-organized design, and the concrete work is beautiful,” one judge says of the lab in In Business. “It speaks to exactly what it was designed for. Although it’s an industrial type of project, it has a certain art to it in terms of colors, materiality and the way it was laid out.”

Marc Manack, founding principal of Silo AR+D in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mark Fenton, senior vice president of the Leopardo Interiors Group in Chicago, Illinois and Russel Manty, principal of IA Architects in New York City, judged projects for the 2020 Commercial Design Awards.