JP Cullen Logo
Close this search box.

How Union Corners was Transformed

Tiffany Scuglik

As part of our New Year’s resolutions, we are starting a new weekly blog series titled “Tough Job of the Week”. As the Tough Job Experts, we want to bring updates to our readers on current and recently completed projects, along with some unique ones we think may pique your interest.

Before we get to our first Tough Job of the Week, let’s clarify what a “Tough Job” really is.

A Tough Job is a project that is complex, requires deep industry-specific expertise, and at times almost seems impossible. We live for the Tough Job because they challenge us – it takes our entire team working together, planning early, and adapting to the unexpected that has allowed to us make the impossible, possible for the last 125 years.

With that said, our first Tough Job of the Week features the UW Health Union Corners Clinic in Madison, WI that was completed in October, where we partnered with Plunkett Raysich Architects (PRA).

The Union Corners Clinic is at the center of a new, mixed-used development at the busy intersection of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street, about two miles northeast of the Wisconsin State Capitol. The 104,320 square foot clinic offers services for urgent care, internal medicine, retail pharmacy, imaging, lab, OB-GYN, and pediatrics services from UW Health.

The history and significance of the Union Corners site to Madison is part of what makes this project so unique.  The site started out as home to the early Ho-Chunk Nation people before becoming an embarkation point for Union soldiers during the Civil War.  The Union Corners Tavern was the last stopping off place on the road to Milwaukee, which soldiers travelled on their long march south.

As the years went on, Union Corners continued to be a central hub on the east side of Madison. In 1916, it became home to the French Battery Company (now known as Ray-O-Vac Battery Corporation).  The 11-acre site also had a diner, homes, small businesses, and a grocery store.  By the early 2000’s, these businesses left Union Corners, and a local developer purchased the site and cleared it.  A neighborhood design charrette was organized and a draft of a site plan was created, but the recession of 2008 made the proposed plan unworkable.  In the fall of 2010, the City of Madison purchased the property to prevent it from being broken up and sold piecemeal.  This is where we came in!

After sitting vacant for a decade and three years of planning, this brownfield was transformed by incorporating its history and the future of healthcare into the development. These historical milestones were tied into the design of the building by Plunkett Raysich Architects.  For example, the exterior stone and columns inside the clinic were designed to draw inspiration from the original brick used on the former French Battery Company.  The brick also features artwork by a renowned Native American artist and Ho-Chunk member, Truman Lowe, and re-use of the French Battery building bricks that were abandoned on site to form monument signs and other landscaping features.

The Union Corners Tavern was torn down in September 1954. Get more information here.


Waiting Area

The new clinic also includes the On-Stage/Off-Stage design concept. PRA’s vision for the design was to create an “On-Stage” welcoming and calming experience for the patients, while creating space for the medical teams to work efficiently, fostering collaboration in confidential “Off-Stage” areas.  Each department has a unique color identity used in the carpet inset in the check-in areas, on the perimeter soffit, and feature wall at the back.  The goal was to provide options, so each area provides kiosks, self check-ins, and reception desks for personal connections.  The kiosks are intentionally “floating” out front with decorative glass backdrop for privacy.  Lastly, the exam rooms have dual access, allowing providers to enter from a separate door that is connected to the care team area.  These staff areas are designed with optional sit-to-stand desks and huddle areas that promote collaboration.


The construction techniques implemented also make this project stand out from others. Prefabrication was used in the construction of the exterior wall panels, which saved four weeks of time on the construction schedule, and the interior components which resulted in a savings of almost $20,000 for the owner.  Building Information Modeling (BIM) also played a big role on this project with the coordination of the mechanical, electrical, and fire protection subcontractors.  This upfront effort saved one full month on schedule, as well as eliminating cost overruns and questions during construction.

Check In Stations

“We have found JP Cullen to be very accommodating and resourceful in meeting the challenges of our healthcare projects. We have always ended up with a quality project completed in a timely manner that was either on budget; or if not, we knew exactly why changes were made. JP Cullen has been a key contributor to the success of our work” –Jerry McGuire, Facilities Project Manager at UW Health

Check out other healthcare projects we have recently completed here.


Cullen icon

Related Posts

July 17, 2024