SE Regional Headquarters – Wisconsin DNR


Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


60,700 SF


Winter, 2021

The scope of this project for the Department of Natural Resources Southeast Regional Headquarters (DNR SER HQ) involves the complete renovation of an existing 56,000 GSF two-story data storage building circa 1977 and the creation of a new 5,000 GSF boat storage building.  The design concept is to re-purpose the former data center as the new workspace for the DNR.  The main goals of the DNR were to create an inviting and secure entrance, maximize daylight and views for the building occupants, and to meet the business needs of the staff.

Ramlow/Stein led the design team and DNR Workgroup through an extensive programming effort and test fit plan exercise to determine the most efficient and comfortable arrangement for the DNR’s 7 divisions with 164 staff.  An organizing principle of the floor plan design was to establish the public and private zones and promote intuitive circulation for visitors and staff on both floors.  The DNR currently hosts public outreach and educational programming so effort was made to locate the large meeting spaces near the new main entrance.  Separation of new customer service areas and staff work areas in the facility was critical.  Access to public records and licenses as well as records storage is a primary business need of the DNR.  The new office layout easily accomplishes this need.  The new headquarters also features new lab spaces for air and water quality testing. The staff will have access to a new breakroom and landscaped patio.

The existing building had relatively few and small exterior windows.  The new design includes an increased number of perimeter windows and a new roof monitor/clerestory to bring daylight into the building on both levels.  The new window openings on the second floor are taller than the existing in effort to drive more light into the building and to improve the curb appeal.  Effort was made in the design to minimize the number of private and enclosed spaces along the perimeter walls to allow for universal access to daylight and views.   A connecting stair with adjacent collaborative work areas is created in the center of the floor plan under the new clerestory to encourage staff interaction and create a sense of place in the workspace.

In addition to new program spaces and interior sustainable features, the existing building envelope was improved with new insulation and a new roof.  The exterior and site design features solar panels, EV charging stations, and new bioretention basins.   This project is currently under construction with completion anticipated in January 2021.