When Becky Steinhoff’s organization purchased an abandoned foundry on Waubesa Street in 2005, she couldn’t immediately envision it as the thriving home of the Goodman Community Center. Now an $11.2 million expansion is in the works to retain a nearby architectural landmark and accommodate the center’s growing needs.
The Goodman Community Center annually serves 35,000 to 40,000 children, teens, seniors and other residents in need. “From the time we moved in here, we’ve grown almost 400 percent,” says Steinhoff, the organization’s executive director who has led the center since 1991. “So we are back in the position of needing space.”
To that end, the private nonprofit organization has embarked on a project to restore, renovate and expand the former Madison Brass Works building just across Waubesa Street and the Capital City Bike Path from the community center between the Atwood and Worthington Park neighborhoods.
Erected in 1918, the current Brass Works building is roughly 14,000 square feet. About 9,000 square feet will be preserved and restored, as well as the Brass Works signage on the building’s façade. Mid-20th century additions will be torn down to make way for a new two-story structure that will push the property’s square footage to 29,000 square feet—“a blend of modern and old,” Steinhoff says.
The center plans to move all its middle school, high school and college readiness classrooms and administrative offices across the street to the Brass Works site, freeing up space in the current building for early childhood and elementary school classrooms, an expanded food pantry and fitness center.
Eppstein Uhen Architects, which reinvented the foundry into the community center it is today, are taking on the expansion project. Senior project manager and veteran architect Cliff Goodhart lists the existing Goodman Community Center as one of his notable projects on the company’s website, along with the Ovation 309 apartment building.
“There are no more rewarding projects than ones like this,” Goodhart says. “We’re saving a part of Madison’s history.”
Making the Old New Again
The ambitious makeover of the Madison Brass Works building will include new uses for the structure’s existing features. Among the highlights, according to principal architect Cliff Goodhart, will be the conversion of a manufacturing room with day-lit, barrel-vaulted roofs into a multipurpose room for community use, and a reinterpretation of the old furnace room into a two-story entry lobby.
“We wanted the lobby to be beautiful and have people feel good when they walked into it,” Goodman Community Center Executive Director Becky Steinhoff says.
Goodhart says the old industrial steel sash windows are a feature he wanted to keep but they are covered with lead paint, are not insulated nor do they have weather seals. Replica windows will be installed in their place. Goodhart says the biggest challenge posed by the old building is how to “improve the structural and thermal performance of the old building without altering the original character.”
Jason McMahon is a freelance journalist from Mount Horeb who spent nearly 20 years working in a variety of roles for The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal.