University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Hires Cannon Design for $30M Residence Hall Project

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWhitewater, Wis.–The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has hired Cannon Design, an international architectural, engineering and interior design firm, to plan and design its new suite-style “Universal Design” residence hall near the central academic zone of the university’s 400-acre campus in Whitewater. Universal Design tries to achieve a broad spectrum of solutions for people with disabilities.The 200,000-sq.-ft, $30 million project (pictured) is aiming for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver rating and will exceed traditional standards in accommodations for people with disabilities. The two inter-connected five-story building residence hall, which has a capacity of more than 450 students, is Cannon Design’s first Universal Design project.Richard Carlson, principal of Cannon Design, tells MHN, “Universal design is about more than just meeting minimum requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our designs aim to make every corner of the residence hall accessible to people with disabilities.”Construction of the residence hall is slated to begin in fall 2008 and completion is scheduled for 2010.The residence hall features 450 rooms and four-person suites, each designed for a specific need. The suites are designed to allow caregivers of students with extreme disabilities to live with their students. The suites in the residence halls will feature four single bedrooms, common area, kitchenette and bathroom.All rooms are designed with clear floor space so students in wheelchairs can maneuver easily. Lounge/kitchen areas and unisex bathrooms are provided on each resident floor. Ground-level spaces include a lobby, common areas, office and support facilities, resident assistants’ rooms, residence hall director apartment, telecom/data rooms, support/computer room, storage and restrooms. Basement amenities include a large kitchen, laundry, storage, multi-purpose rooms and learning involvement team/hall council facilities.Vojo Narancic, principal of Cannon Design, tells MHN that designing the Whitewater project had its challenges. “A universal design project requires more area. The kind of hardware required is different for these projects. While designing, a big challenge was keeping the expense and accommodation in balance. The LEED factors, such as use of recyclable materials, letting natural sunlight in and balancing the operating cost of energy, also posed a challenge.”University of Wisconsin at Whitewater is home to a national-champion wheelchair basketball team and 30 percent of its students have some sort of disability.