Wisconsin Hillel Buildings Honored

Two Wisconsin Hillel buildings have won awards for architectural achievement: the Joseph and Vera Zilber Hillel Student Center at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and the Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Milwaukee building earned a special Mayor’s Design Award for architectural excellence.

The Madison publication, In Business, named the Hillel Hochberg Center “Project of the Year.” In its front-page story, the publication wrote that “the judges couldn’t take their eyes off the photos of the Center,” adding, “The photogenic UW Hillel-Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life could easily have won in several categories, but it took home the most important prize of all, 2010 “Project of the Year” in IB’s annual Commercial Design Awards, and outpolled other finalists in the CDAs’ ‘Best New Development or Renovation – Other’ category.”

IB magazine wrote:

More than 5,000 Jewish students attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, helping to make the UW Hillel one of the largest and most active programs of its kind. In the view of CDA judges, the new 41,000-square-foot facility that serves the Hillel program is absolutely outstanding in its design, green features, and the completeness of its design solution. They praised its varied use of materials and its engaging and distinctive look, and they appreciated the way project designers used sustainability to enhance the building’s attractiveness.

Like the 2009 Project of the Year, the University Square facility developed by Executive Management, Inc., our judges feel the Center, which replaced a much smaller facility that could no longer support UW Hillel’s growth, is an extraordinary structure. The building, anchored by a metal clad tower, is designed to provide students with a home away from home, and comes complete with Shabbat and kosher dining programs, worship areas, and space to host a variety of cultural and social events. “It extraordinarily met its mission of supporting all aspects of Jewish life,” stated one judge. “They just nailed it.”

Said another, who was frankly shocked by what he called the Center’s radical departure from other buildings: “I’m a big fan of this building and its radical interplay of modern forms. It’s also an exciting addition to the streetscape.”

Hillel also scored big in another facet of modern design – judges felt that architects introduced sustainable elements into the Center without making it obvious that it’s a “green” building. “There was a push for awhile to make a building green just to look green,” observed one judge. “They did a good job of making it green naturally.”

image: Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life at the University of Wisconsin, Madison