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Monday, October 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 43.0° F  A Few Clouds
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How they did it

Credit:Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Block 89's success owes largely to the decision by the architects at Valerio Dewalt Train Associates to break the project into six building plans and avoid the stultifying monumentalism that has detracted from other downtown development.

'Everything we did was in deference to the Capitol,' says David Jennerjahn, the project's managing architect.

Because the parking is underground, the architects were able to vary the massing, using a 'wedding cake' design to step back the taller buildings and keep the sidewalk buildings, in many places, a pedestrian-friendly three to five stories high.

Exterior looks aside, the full block is interconnected and serviced by an interior alley that runs through the center. And if the scale of the buildings seems vaguely familiar, that's for good reason: It's based on the 11-foot modules of the downtown's original plat. Thus, lots were 22, 33, 44, 55 or 66 feet wide around the Square.

'That gave us the rules to create the same scale with our buildings,' says Jennerjahn. 'We wanted to get back to the roots of the Square with its smaller entrepreneurial buildings.'

The fact that the Valerio team did so with a post- modernist flair is all the more impressive.

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