As the state capital of Wisconsin, Madison plays a major role in the region’s economic development. Besides being home to many government offices and the University of Wisconsin’s main campus, its urban scene is dominated by the technology market and other relevant commercial sectors.
Shaping, modernizing, and transforming the city’s architectural landscape are the best commercial architects in Madison. The firms featured below have multiple awards and affiliations, and are highly commended for their comprehensive approach to architecture and interior design.
722 Williamson St., Madison, WI 53703
Kahler Slater is one of the oldest and most established architects in the region. Established over 100 years ago, its award-winning portfolio features projects that are repeatedly recognized by industry leaders. Wisconsin Masonry Alliance recently honored the firm with its 2021 Excellence in Masonry Award. American Institute of Architects (AIA) also recognized the company with its 2020 Merit Award for two of its projects.
Under the leadership of CEO Glenn Roby, AIA, and managing director Jim Rasche, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, RIBA, LCI, the firm has delivered commercial architecture and designs for many notable clients through the years. An example of its work in Madison was a project for the technology giant Google. The goal of the design was to combine the client’s signature creativity and playfulness with Wisconsin’s agricultural past. The concept was realized in a local, historic building, a former International Harvester factory. The resulting work featured a rustic-industrial interior with an open layout, exposed beams, and muted canvases for walls and flooring, contrasting with the playful company colors that the brand is known for.
Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA)
309 West Johnson St. Suite #202, Madison, WI 53703
Since Eppstein Uhen Architects opened its doors in 1907, it has been producing notable designs that have shaped the architectural landscape across market sectors. These include the corporate, education, healthcare, residential, industrial, science and technology, community, and commercial sectors. John S. Chapman, AIA leads the Madison office.
The company’s award-winning portfolio has repeatedly won accolades. For instance, The Lyric and The Breese, making up a two-phase project commissioned by Stone House Development, were recipients of the Associated General Contractor (AGC) Building Wisconsin Award and Projects of Distinction Silver Award, as well as the Daily Reporter Top Project Award and City of Madison Mayor’s Design Award. The buildings, located in Madison, feature 291,800 square feet of commercial and multifamily residential space, along with a parking garage that covers 136,239 square feet. Drawing from the sleek, clean style elements of modern architecture, the Lyric features a glass-dominated façade. The mixed-use building totals eleven stories. The Breese shares the same design context and provides four stories of affordable housing.
301 N Broom St. Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703
For over four decades, OPN Architects has been a prominent firm across a wide spectrum of industries in delivering architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture. Principal and president Daniel Thies, AIA, LEED AP, leads the firm’s practice, commended for its modern, efficient, and sustainable designs. Under his leadership, the firm has earned regional and national AIA Merit Awards and the notable 2021 Engineering Excellence Best of State Award, given by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin. Its award-winning project list includes collaborations with notable clients across the region.
In Madison, the firm led the redesign and renovation efforts for Forward Health Group’s 5,700-square-foot corporate and commercial building. The building’s design focused on providing collaborative spaces and an overall flexible work environment for the client’s employees. The firm delivered by introducing new materials and elements to the interiors. Instead of the old solid doors, the use of transparent glass opened up the space. The firm also added small teaming rooms, soft seating, touchdown areas for quick meets, two private rooms, and a full board room. Also included in the project were a break lounge, a modern kitchenette, and high-tech visuals for a more interactive experience.
811 E Washington Ave. Suite #200, Madison, WI 53703
Offering a comprehensive architecture, engineering, interior design, and planning practice, Strang is one of the most highly-regarded firms in the region. With a history of multiple awards dating back to 1935, the firm has dominated annual competitions for years, including the ASID Design Excellence Awards and the ACEC National Honor Award. Under the guidance of principal architect Lawrence Barton, AIA, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP, many of the company’s projects have also been featured in national and regional publications, including Engineering News-Record (ENR), SyncMagazine, Wisconsin State Journal, and In Business Magazine.
The company’s commercial projects in Madison exhibit the same high quality and distinctive architecture. The Gebhardt Building features a contemporary-style structure that houses an eight-story corporate office space and music performance space that can accommodate 2,500 patrons. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls connect the indoor areas to their vibrant urban landscape. These transparent elements also let in natural daylight to provide open, airy interiors.
Dimension IV Madison Design Group
6515 Grand Teton Plz. Suite #120, Madison, WI 53719
Since Dimension IV Madison Design Group launched its practice in 2007, the firm has produced a commercial design and architecture portfolio that is celebrated by industry institutions, including the AIA and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). In Business Magazine also featured many of the firm’s projects for their efficient, modern, and responsive designs that put emphasis on the needs of the users. Principal architect Jim Gersich, AIA, WRID, RLA developed the firm’s design solutions based on his more than four decades of experience as a multiple-licensed architect, landscape architect, and interior designer.
One of the firm’s most notable projects was the renovation of the Graduate Madison, a boutique hotel near the University of Wisconsin’s campus. The work won the Associated Builders and Contractors’s (ABC) 2015 Projects of Distinction Silver Award for Commercial Buildings in the $2-10 million category, among other recognitions. Included in the redesign are the new lobby, a new restaurant area, and a new bar. The firm was also tasked with the transformation of the structure’s seventh-floor suites. Outdoor seating on its sun deck roof terrace added a fresh-air dining experience. The firm also redesigned 72 guest rooms and upgraded the building’s MEP system.
Destree Design Architects
222 W Washington Ave. Suite #310, Madison, WI 53703
Destree Design Architects is known for its collaborative and client-centered delivery solutions. The firm’s architecture and interior design work are enhanced by its background in sustainable design that showcases green material options and alternative energy sources. Since its founding over 21 years ago, it has followed this delivery method under the leadership of Melissa Destree, AIA, NCARB, IIDA, WRID. In Business Magazine, The Daily Reporter, and IIDA have highlighted the firm’s milestones through the years.
The firm has completed a long list of commercial projects in Madison. One of the most recent was the Park Hotel. The company was commissioned with leading the architecture, interior design, and rebranding efforts for the hospitality building. The overall work revolved around the boldness and metallic elements of the Hollywood Regency style. This design inspiration guided the firm in transforming the hotel’s ballrooms, meeting rooms, guestrooms, lobby, and façade.
7780 Elmwood Ave. Suite #208, Middleton, WI 53562
Since Sketchworks Architecture’s establishment in 2004 as Shulfer Architects, LLC, its client base has expanded throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. Partner architects Steve Shulfer, AIA, LEED AP, and Bradley S. Koning, AIA, NCARB, lead the firm’s day-to-day operations, providing architecture, environment branding, and interior design, as well as project administration and observation to six major sectors. These include the hospitality, corporate, multifamily residential, brewery, retail, and industrial markets.
One of the firm’s most noted projects is the Dancing Goat Distillery. The commercial brewery facility is celebrated for its rustic and warm contemporary barn style that represents the client’s brand. The space features two levels of retail space. Glass overhead doors provide the option of open-air events, enhancing the space’s expansive atmosphere. The main highlight of the design is its use of reclaimed wood materials and hand-forged bar stools. Metal Architecture spotlighted this project as a unique drinking and dining experience.
Architectural Design Consultants, Inc.
202 W Gorham St., Madison, WI 53703
Offering conception-to-completion services, Architectural Design Consultants provides a comprehensive approach to design. Its more than three decades of practice under president and CEO Bob Nagel have been highly regarded by the region’s design and building community. In Business Magazine, Hotel Management Magazine, and World Waterpark Magazine highlighted many of the firm’s milestones through the years. The company serves the entire United States and other parts of the world, specializing in the commercial industry.
An example of the firm’s work is an office buildout of its own headquarters in Madison. The design of the interiors focused on introducing the connections and interactive spaces needed for contemporary architecture. Adding sophistication to the spaces are wood and wood-like materials throughout the building. Against a neutral color palette are black granite and metallic details that evoke a modern architecture inspiration.
202 W Gorham St., Madison, WI 53703
Founded in 2002, Brownhouse incorporates the best of what architecture and interior design have to offer through modern design solutions that cater to today’s established and emerging markets. Shane Fry, AIA, and Laurel McManus Brown lead the firm’s comprehensive design practice. Their combined portfolio is composed of high-end projects for the multiresidential, corporate, hospitality, retail, and spa and salon sectors.
The UpperHouse is an example of the firm’s work for a private foundation in Madison. The firm was in charge of the architecture and interior design of the 16,500-square-foot property. To realize these designs, the firm partnered with general contracting firm Findorff. The resulting work highlights modern materials mixed with the natural elements of timber. These materials directed the overall warm and soft palette of the interiors. These tones are set against a vibrant saturation of bright orange and green furnishings, especially on “The Porch,” a lounge area shown here.
JLA Architects (Joseph Lee & Associates)
800 W Broadway Suite #200, Monona, WI 53713
Serving a variety of market types, JLA Architects provides comprehensive planning and architectural services. The firm was established in 2007 as an answer to the growing need for architects that cater to the needs of the commercial, hospitality, recreational, industrial, civil, multiresidential, and mixed-use sectors. Joseph Lee, AIA, with his background in urban planning and architectural design, has produced projects that are commended by industry organizations.
In Business Magazine, Urban Milwaukee, Milwaukee Independent, and The Daily Reporter are among the long list of publications that have featured the firm’s modern designs. One of its projects that is highly commended by the design community is the Dudes Abode. The commercial building, inspired by the clean and bold palettes of modern-industrial architecture, was built to provide commercial, retail, and market-rate housing units to Madison’s nearby communities.
Aro Eberle Architecture
116 King St. Suite 202, Madison, WI 53703
Aro Eberle Architecture is a highly commended design firm that makes use of the latest in architectural technology to cater to the region’s most demanding markets. Its projects for the healthcare, laboratory, hospitality, civic, commercial, retail, and academic markets are characterized by creative innovation and modern engineering. Principal architects Matt Aro, Mike Eberle, AIA, and Doug Pahl, AIA, WRID, lead the company’s design and project management practice now in its 16th year.
Some of the firm’s notable projects are featured in industry publications, including In Business Magazine. In recent years, the firm was also the recipient of the prestigious 2018 IIDA Wisconsin Design Award. Its EatStreet, Inc. project in Madison was also the winner of the same organization’s 2017 Best of Competition. The work puts emphasis on providing a collaborative environment for the client.