ETC Brings Dynamic Control to University Wellness Complex

Date Posted: 5/15/2024

All photos are courtesy of Mead & Hunt, © 2023 Christy Radecic.

Last spring, the University of Wisconsin-Madison opened one of the most impressive additions to their campus to date: the Bakke Recreation and Wellness Center. With the help of ETC’s Paradigm, Mosaic, and Echo control systems, the sprawling 270,000 square foot building is not only a feat of size and scope, but a tasteful marriage of elegant and playful architectural lighting.

Irina Ragozin of Mead & Hunt, the project’s lighting designer, knew from the jump that she wanted to use ETC’s architectural control systems on the project. “The University wanted to have fun with the space and to have as much flexibility as they could,” says Ragozin.

And flexibility is exactly what they got. The state-of-the-art community wellness hub includes a swimming pool, rock-climbing wall, tennis and basketball courts, spaces for activities like yoga and spin classes, even a teaching kitchen to host nutritional education programs—just to name a handful of features. Lighting the entire building under a unified control system, from a room of nap pods to an ice rink that knows how to party, was no small task.

“I immediately knew to come to ETC for this project,” continues Ragozin. “Since the project was in Madison, I even arranged for folks from the UW to take a tour of the factory to show them how this would all operate, to understand how they’d be able to control the entire building from an 18-inch screen.”

The screen in question is Paradigm’s 18” Touchscreen, located at the Bakke center’s front desk. Using the touchscreen’s user-friendly interface, the Bakke’s staff can control lighting in any room of the sprawling complex at the tap of a finger. “Paradigm controls 95% of the building. The system can adequately control all the general lighting, occupancy sensing, room combine for divisible teaching spaces, and everything else needed. This isn’t something every commercial system can do,” says Bryan Palmer, Controls Manager at Enterprise Lighting, ETC’s rep in Madison. Enterprise worked closely with Ragozin on the project.

Ragozin used Mosaic to introduce dynamic color and movement to the lighting scheme of several spaces. The spin studio, for example, is programed for colorful lights on the wall and ceiling to produce a chasing effect that simulates forward motion while the bikes remain stationary. The ice rink, used during the day for hockey practice and skating lessons, can switch into a party mode complete with Desire LED fixtures at the flip of a switch. “A key reason to use Mosaic is that it can be integrated into the facility-wide Paradigm system for daily operations but can be programmed independently of the Paradigm system when changes are needed, preventing accidental changes to the core system,” says Palmer.

Echo controls are used in the health suites, as they were initially conceived as a separate entity from the fitness center. Echo, ETC’s wired, distributed lighting control solution, is perfect for smaller spaces that don’t need to be managed by a central control system. But when plans changed, the team was able to seamlessly incorporate the Echo-controlled environments into the building’s over-arching Paradigm system. “It ended up working out well, because now if there’s a power outage in part of the building, or if the larger system were to fail—whatever the case may be—the health center can continue running independently, then connect back to the core system once it's back online,” explains Palmer.

With a building of this size, the importance of keeping things running smoothly is paramount. Luckily, ETC’s tech support system is just a call away. “Close to opening day, a member of UW’s team hit some switch and accidentally killed the program," Ragozin recalls. “She called ETC and told them what happened, and they said, ‘Hold on. We'll be there in 15 minutes.’ She told me that when malfunctions happen in other buildings on campus, it can take weeks to fix. And there ETC was in 15 minutes. They fixed it, then explained how to handle the situation in the future so that the center’s staff can fix it themselves.”

Kristen Roth Briggs, Enterprise Lighting’s Architectural Sales Director, also praises ETC’s support.

“I can’t emphasize enough how uncommon the 24/7 support that ETC offers is in the commercial controls world,” says Roth Briggs. “That is a huge factor for facilities like this, knowing that no matter what time of day it is, they can get support if they need it.” She smiles. “That’s definitely something to brag about.”

With ETC’s architectural control systems exhibiting unparalleled control over a range of richly dynamic environmental spaces, the UW Bakke Center is a shining example of lighting’s ability to bring unexpected moments of beauty into our daily routines.