The prairie grasses of Northern Wisconsin became the narrative for UW–Superior's Yellowjacket Union. A vegetated roof, visible across campus, changes from spring greens to summer pinks and fall oranges, telling the story of the seasons and serving the practical purpose of insulation during the long, cold winters. Through a thoughtful use of color, a large-scale fireplace, and large windows, the union glows with warmth. The Yellowjacket Union fully embraces its local geography along the banks of Lake Superior. 

On the UW system's smallest campus, UW–Superior's union demanded close attention to scale. Creating large, vacuous spaces can lead to an increased feeling of isolation. Achieving ideal social mass required a well-considered overlapping of programmatic functions to create what Workshop calls "thick space." Low visual barriers and dense programming generated the social vibrancy that the old Yellowjacket Union lacked. Although the union feels large, with its two-story windows, a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, and a grand stair leading to a mezzanine, there are many cozy nooks for intimate conversations over coffee or an afternoon with a favorite book. 


Scope: 84,500 SF New Construction
Total Project Budget: $20,900,000
Project Location: Superior, Wisconsin
Completed: Spring 2010