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1 West Wilson Street: History of the State Office Building

Building Construction and Remodeling

  • The original east tower was constructed in 1932 for $544,374.
  • The center tower and the connector to the east building were constructed in the early 1938 for $1,889,000.
  • Room 736 was added in the late 1950s on top of the roof. It was built to house the State Architect and his staff. Originally, windows covered the entire upper portion of the walls, but were filled in as an energy saving measure.
  • The west tower and the connector to the center tower were constructed in the late 1950s / early 1960s for $3,013,000.
  • In the 1980s an extensive remodeling project reconstructed the interior of the building and all of the windows were replaced. The Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and electrical systems were upgraded. These two items required the installation of dropped ceilings and the electrical trays in the hallways. Many of the original plaster walls were removed at this time with the exception of room 650. The loading dock was moved from what is currently room B258 to its current location. The kitchen and cafeteria were expanded.
  • In 1993, the building was universally cabled. This allowed for much easier moves of staff because telephone and data connections were much more evenly distributed in a logical fashion.
  • In 1995 and 1998, major upgrades were made to the HVAC system.
  • Between 1995 and 2005 most of the building was fitted with 1,300 systems furniture cubicles.
  • In 1997 parking for the building was added at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
  • In 2012 and 2013, the exterior was repaired and all of the windows were replaced.

Facts, Figures and Trivia

  • During the 1980s, there were over 2,000 staff in the building. At that time, Department of Heath and Family Services (DHS's predecessor) and the Department of Administration (DOA) were the major tenants of the building.
  • The current capacity is 1,600 employees in 1,300 system cubes, 200 freestanding cubes, and 100 offices.
  • The vacancy rate of the building is typically between two and four percent.
  • The building has 83 conference rooms with a capacity for over 1,000 people. The largest conference room is in room 751 and can accommodate up to 150 people theater-style.
  • The building contains roughly 445,000 square feet. The amount of office space is over 250,000 square feet.
  • There is 25,000 square feet of storage.
  • There are 1,227 windows.
  • On floors seven to 11, there is only one restroom per floor. Men's restrooms are on the odd floors and women's on the even. All other floors have bathrooms for both sexes with two of one sex and one for the other alternating except for 1st which has one for each.
  • The second emergency exit from 736 requires going out on the roof to re-enter the building stairwell.
  • The biggest windows are located on 5th floor in the east and west towers. These are nine feet wide compared to most in the building which are closer to three feet wide.
  • The best views from the building are actually on the 10th floor. The 11th floor is inset two feet compared to the lower floors, so the windows are recessed, blocking some of the view. The windows are also smaller.
  • The first kitchenette with a sink was installed in 1150 when Department of Administration (DOA) staff occupied the space in the 1980s. The second and the last kitchenette with a sink was installed by DOA in the 1990s. There are 47 more "dry" kitchenettes in the building.
  • Adjacent to the 10th and 8th floor women's restrooms are the building's only lounges.
  • The vault located on B3 is built of concrete walls that are two feet thick, and a massive door with glass to see the internal workings. Stories claim that it was used to store confiscated guns and liquor during Prohibition.

Proposal from the 1970s

In the late 1970s, a building study of 1 W. Wilson offered several suggestions on how to alter the building. These included:

  • Filling in the lakeside courtyards with office space. This would have meant 108,355 square feet of additional office space. This would have added almost 50% more office space to the building. Two nine story atriums would bring in light to the center of the building.
  • The removal of all interior hallway walls to create open areas which would add approximately 11,800 square feet of office space. This only occurred in B244.
  • Demolishing parts of B3 and B4 to create a 400 space parking lot which would have extended to where the current loading dock is.
  • Based on the number of plumbing fixtures in the building, the building could accommodate 6,000 people. This expansion could occur without adding any more restrooms.
Last revised June 14, 2022