When the Sauk County Parks Department (SCPD) chose to replace their failing park offices, they recognized the potential of building a community space—one that could host events and serve as a hub for park visitors. That’s when Friede & Associates was tapped to construct a new building for the SCPD at White Mound Park, the crown jewel of the Sauk County parks system.
The new, 3,000-square-foot conventionally-framed building designed by Galbraith Carnahan Architects of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is located in Hillpoint, Wisconsin and replaces the original White Mound County Park building, a log structure constructed in the 1980s. Over time, the original building become a maintenance burden to the county due to significant insect infestation and log deterioration. This small, outdated space was cramped and did not adequately accommodate disabled park users.
Designed to be on a single accessible level, the building houses the administrative offices for the SCPD, provides concessions, rentals and back-up showers for the nearby campground, and has a spacious 720-square-foot community room that is available for meetings, weddings and other events. The facility also includes space for camper registration, a kitchen and an outside picnic area that overlooks White Mound Lake. The building is now fully ADA compliant and includes three bathrooms, including a shower room and family restroom on the outside of the building. An asphalt pathway from the building leads toward the lake and beach, where a Mobi-mat® has been installed to ensure accessibility for all to the water’s edge.
Given the difficulty of maintaining the original SCPD headquarters, a key concern was that the building be durable and easy to maintain. The building’s metal roof is its first line of defense and, with a 50-plus year warranty, the wide eaves help shed problematic water and heavy snow. The need for a flame-resistant roof was also necessitated by the fact that the park performs controlled burns in the adjacent prairie every other year.
The modern lines of the building's exterior were inspired by both the landscape of the park and the utilitarian farm buildings throughout the surrounding countryside. The gentle sloping roofs mimic the rolling hills of the native oak savannah in the park. The interconnected pitched roof allows for future additions and modifications. Additionally, the exterior is covered with Corten steel siding that has been chemically engineered to prevent corrosion—all while providing a rustic look and unmatched durability. Should the building be the unfortunate recipient of vandalism, the steel siding can be cleaned with a wire brush and be left to rust out again.
Funding for the project was partially provided by American Transmission Company, which compensated the county in exchange for the placement of a high capacity transmission line. One stipulation was that the money be used to enhance sustainability and reduce environmental impact within the county. As such, the building was set into the slope of the hill to shield it from the strong northwesterly winds.
Extensive foam insulation in the walls and ceilings exceeds the code minimum requirements for insulation, keeping the facility warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Wide overhangs provide shade in the summer months. A series of windows was installed along the southern side of the building, facilitating passive solar heating of the space in the winter. These features were especially useful during the polar vortex of 2019, when temperatures dropped to -40 degrees Fahrenheit and the liquid propane for heating the building froze in the tank overnight. A testament to the building’s durability, the interior temperature only dropped to 50 degrees.
“They remedied tough situations with innovation and resourcefulness. Friede & Associates concerned themselves with creating a high-quality building ahead of their own budget. I was very satisfied with the services Friede & Associates provided." —Matt Stieve.
Despite the challenges of constructing a modern community space, all while maintaining the park’s natural beauty, the Friede & Associates team completed this project on time and under budget.
Sauk County Parks Director Matt Stieve noted, “High quality craftsmanship was never compromised. When it may have been good enough for me, it may not have been good enough for them, and they made improvements until a desired product resulted. Their staff was flexible, making authorized improvements to the design while working closely with Sauk County’s staff and the principal architect.”
This building is now attracting new visitors to the park to partake in ice fishing, stargazing, camping and hiking activities, introducing the park’s numerous resources and amenities to a whole new audience. One of the main challenges of this project was to provide increased access and utility to the public while preventing the degradation of the park’s landscape. Blending seamlessly with its surroundings, the new community building at White Mound County Park achieves the objective of providing an understated, respectful facility from which to explore the beauty of nature.
“They remedied tough situations with innovation and resourcefulness. Friede & Associates concerned themselves with creating a high-quality building ahead of their own budget. I was very satisfied with the services Friede & Associates provided,” added Stieve.