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Feldman, Jim (Writer) / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

West day care,   p. 243

Page 243

Fig. 1. Day care buildings, 1994. The 1935
flat-roofed building is at left, with the
1965 gabled-roofed one at the right.
[Author Photo, AP-22]
he U. S. Forest Products Laboratory occasionally erects a building to test the practicality of a
building material or technique. These experimental buildings were usually erected near the
main building at the west end of campus. In 1962 the FPL bought several acres of land near
parking lot #60. They intended to use this land to relocate their experimental buildings to provide
space to extend their main building. When in the mid 1970s the University needed to reclaim this land
to facilitate the construction of the new medical complex, the FPL's experimental building were
already on the land. The land became the property of the University, but the FPL maintained ownership
of the buildings. In 1979 the University negotiated an agreement with the FPL to use the two buildings
as a day care center and pay rent to the FPL in the amount of $330 per month. The agreement would
expire September 1983. The University also contracted with Child Development Incorporated to
establish a day care center in the buildings. 1
The buildings were altered to provide offices, and play areas for the day care center. The
plans for the alterations are dated a few months before the lease was made. The plans insulated parts
of the buildings, replaced windows, and returned experimental panels to the engineers at the FPL.
The smaller flat-roofed building was constructed in 1936 as a test bed for "stressed-skin"
prefabrication techniques, and according to the FPL is the first of its kind in the world. The flat build-
ing is 25 by 38 feet, built from stressed skin panels, and a flat wood-framed roof. It houses offices and
day care space.2
The larger building to the east was probably built about 1965 to test some other prefabricating
techniques. This building is 28 by 40 feet, with a gable roof, and a basement. It houses the day care
offices, and play space for the children.
Plans are occasionally broached to replace these shabby, cold and draft buildings with a
modem day care facility. The Forest Lab retained the right to reclaim the buildings if the University
decides to raze them.
1) Bruce and Sandbank, A History of Prefabrication, January 1944, NA 8480 B75 1972, library of the Forest Products
Laboratory; Draft of a request to negotiate a use permit with the Forest Products Laboratory, Papers of the Regent's
Meetings, July 1978; Regent's Minutes, November 1979, exhibit III, October 10, 1980.
2) Automated Builder, October 1994, p. 22.

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