The Spark: Changing Madison's East Side Landscape | General Heating and Air Conditioning

The Spark: Changing Madison’s East Side Landscape

Madison’s reputation and stature as a high-performing marketplace continues to be reflected in the significant improvements that are being made in just about all neighborhoods. Nowhere is this more evident than in the rapidly transforming East Washington Avenue corridor.

One of Madison’s leading companies, American Family Insurance, is making a signature statement through the construction of a new building called The Spark. The eight-story, 158,000 square-foot building is located in the 800 block of East Washington Avenue. Hailed as a “catalyst for innovation,” the Spark building is viewed as being “dedicated to innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship in Madison.”

The new building will house some of the company’s offices as well as the city-sponsored, StartingBlock. StartingBlock will be located on the second, third, and fourth floors and will be an entrepreneurial center for start-up companies and established entrepreneurs to share knowledge, skills, and professional assistance. The Spark also represents an opportunity for American Family to cost-effectively create workspace for future growth.
East Washington Avenue is marked by a number of significant new developments. StartingBlock and The Spark are part of the larger Capital East Development Project that includes the Gebhardt Building, home for Frank Productions’ music venue, The Sylvee, and the new Capital East Parking Garage.

About The Spark:

  • The building will have a modern, environmentally-sustainable design and feature collaborative indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • The Spark’s design creates an architectural statement while being inclusive of the fabric of the neighborhood.
  • The continued movement of the construction industry to become more environmentally sustainable is shown in The Spark which will use only 50 percent of the energy of a typical Midwest office building.

In order to meet this high standard, Hooper Corporation and General Heating and Air Conditioning (GHAC) worked with general contractor, J.H. Findorff & Son, and American Family Insurance for over a year in the design phase before the project broke ground to ensure that all needs were met. Hooper plumbing crews installed the total plumbing systems including domestic water system, sanitary waste and venting system, storm water system, and rain water reuse system.

Green Energy and Sustainability
The building will have a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) 4.0 designation. This is the most recent version of LEED green building rating given by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is also the first WELL certified building in Madison. WELL Building Standard covers seven core concepts of health to optimize buildings to advance human health and well-being.

Additional Green Initiatives

  • The building also has a geo-exchange bore field, heat recovery air handling units, and cold plasma ionization which improves air quality by controlling odors and allergens, killing pathogens, and reducing particles.
  • Several steps were taken to make sure the building used significantly less energy. One way is through the rain water reuse system. The 10,000 gallon rain water reuse system will use water from storms to feed the make-up water for the HVAC equipment.
  • The rain reuse system is above ground and inside the building which posed a challenge. Hooper worked closely with Findorff, to ensure that the tank could fit in the building and be installed before the building was closed in.
  • All large diameter water piping was a polypropylene (PPR) piping fused system with electrofusion couplings to decrease the carbon footprint of the building. In fact, the extent to which PPR piping and electrofusion couplings were used has not been done in Madison before. This required a major investment in tools and education for our crews. Extensive use of shop fabrication including pump assemblies, valve assemblies, and pipe fabrication helped expedite on-site construction.

This unique building on Madison’s east side combines innovation and style and we are proud to have the opportunity work alongside longtime partner, Findorff, in creating a history-changing new signature building for Wisconsin’s capitol city.