GreenBiz: Cedarburg architects keep green tradition strong with work on Wright building

Frank Lloyd Wright helped put Wisconsin on the map for architects with his work. Today, much of Wright’s work would be considered “green.”

The Kubala Washatko Associates Inc. (TKWA), a Cedarburg-based firm, is continuing that green tradition, and recently won national recognition for its addition to a work by the master himself.

The firm’s work on a 20,000 square foot addition to the First Unitarian Society Meeting House in Madison, completed in 2008, recently was selected to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Projects in the country.

Wright designed the original meeting house, which is on the National Historic Landmark list, in 1951.The addition had to be designed to not only be historically sensitive, but also “sustainably innovative.”

Strategies used by TKWA included the extensive use of recycled and regional materials, innovative thermal comfort systems, generous day lighting and natural ventilation, detailed storm water management planning and careful sourcing of energy-saving fixtures. The project also was awarded a LEED Gold rating by the U.S. Green Building Council.

TKWA worked closely with the congregation, Wright historians and experts from the State Historical Society and elsewhere and environmental experts on the project. “The three-party peer review process helped create a most compatible addition that beautifully complements Wright’s architecture,” said John G. Thorpe, a restoration architect and an AIA Peer Review Panel member.

“Both the process and the product are excellent models for future additions in landmark buildings in general and those of Frank Lloyd Wright in particular.”

Read more about the project in a new GreenBiz column