July 30, 2022

The fanciful, theme-park landscaping and architectural design of Epic Systems‘ corporate campus made for a one-of-a-kind tour during the Madison Fling in June. While I’d read about Epic’s imaginative design, I had not heard about its ambitious efforts at sustainability. According to the company’s website:

“Epic’s buildings are all constructed sustainably and powered in part by alternative energy. Farmers crop nearly 350 acres of our land, and we’ve strived to use minimally impervious concretes for our parking structures and roads to prevent runoff. The majority of our parking spaces are also underground, reducing our footprint and preserving the idyllic countryside. Our buildings are heated and cooled by 1000s of miles of geothermal pipes reaching 500 feet underground. As a software company, we recognize that we use a lot of energy – we’ve installed six wind turbines and 18 acres of solar panels to help meet our energy needs. On a bright windy day we’re practically off the grid.”

Hiking across Epic’s expansive campus, we came to a sunny field awash with coneflowers. Beautiful and pollinator friendly? Yes and yes. But also, our guide informed us, this is part of an extensive green-roof system atop an underground parking garage.

Whaaaat?

In fact, nearly all of Epic’s 9,000 parking spaces (as of 2018) are underground, with planted gardens on top. “If this were all surface parking, we’d have between 120 and 150 acres of asphalt,” according to Steve Dickman, Epic’s chief administration officer, in The Country Today. Instead of asphalt and cars baking in the sun, Epic chose coneflowers and other plants, wildlife habitat, rainwater infiltration, heat reduction, and beautiful park-like spaces for their employees to enjoy.

I call that a win-win-win for employees, plants and wildlife, and Planet Earth.

Can you imagine walking outside your office to views like this instead of parking lots?

I can, and it would be a huge selling point.

Of course underground parking garages must be hugely expensive. But everything we can do to make our landscapes and cities more “green” and resilient in the face of climate change is probably our most important endeavor now.

I love this apricot and burgundy color combo.

Meadowy grasses edged with a bit of mown lawn are prettier than just lawn, providing habitat and movement and requiring much less weekly maintenance and water than a lawn.

And at Epic you never know what fantastic beast will be striding through the plants.

Wild West garden

This part of the campus is older than the Storybook Campus I showed in Part 1, but it’s themed as well. The most surprising area to my eyes was an Arizona, red-rock desert garden dubbed the Wild West. What’s this doing in verdant Wisconsin?

Why not?” Epic would answer. Unsurprisingly there were no ocotillos or saguaros. Instead, smoke trees, conifers, coneflowers, grasses, and sedums sub in for desert species. An expanse of red gravel mulch plays up the desert theme, as do expressive mustangs crafted from rusty horseshoes.

A metal dragonfly has alit on one horse’s nose. I’m curious to know what the seedlings coming up in the gravel might be. Any guesses?

In a more densely planted area, a massive serpent seems to slither along the ground, forked tongue tasting the air. Its head doubles as a garden bench.

Its patterned body “disappears” under some rocks and a flowering yucca and pops up again to run nearly the length of a building.

Tropical-style garden

Just beyond the desert garden, a tropical-esque garden of big leaves, bananas, and jungly grasses creates an entirely different feel. A few Flingers hopped on the free Epic bicycles parked all around the campus and took off, enjoying a faster tour with the wind in their hair.

Asian-style garden

Circling around you come to an Asian-inspired office building.

A contemplative Japanese-style garden tucked between two buildings would be a lovely spot for a quiet outdoor lunch.

Here be dragons

Dragon art appears throughout this part of the campus, including a sentimental dragon holding a songbird…

…and a ferocious, three-headed dragon snarling and snapping from a moat.

Rawr!

And more

A few more scenes as we dashed through the campus, like this astronomy-themed building entrance.

A silver chameleon zapping his tongue at something in a metal tree

Shapely pottery totems in a meadow garden

Prairie milkweed offering larval habitat to passing monarch butterflies

Clock-like flowers “blooming” in a birch grove

An epic-sized vase of flowers outside the main entrance

The Tin Man from Oz directing traffic in the visitor and customer parking lot (one of the few surface lots)

And a non-epic — rather modest, in fact — Epic sign.

What a place to work — and visit! Epic Systems invites the public to visit and take a self-guided tour Monday through Friday from 2:30 pm to 5 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. The gardens alone are fascinating, and you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring them. Believe it or not, Epic also allows covid-vaxxed visitors to poke around indoors. I’d love to come back and see the staircase to heaven and elevator to hell; the Harry Potter library, staircase, and astronomy tower; the conference-room treehouse; the rabbit-hole slide between floors; the new castaway-island building; and the Dungeons & Dragons-themed building. My fellow geeks, this place is made for you. Check Epic’s website for updates on visiting times or rules.

Or take a 17-minute video tour of the Epic campus, including interior spaces, on YouTube.

Up next: The creatively mobile driveway garden of Jane and Duane Miller. For a look back at Part 1 of my visit to Epic Systems’ fantasy landscaping and interiors, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Digging Deeper

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. The 6th season kicks off in fall 2022.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post Green-roof prairie and fantasy gardens at Epic Systems, Part 2 appeared first on Digging.

Epic’s campus includes a sunny field of coneflowers. Beautiful, pollinator friendly, and also a green roof on an underground parking garage!… Read More
The post Green-roof prairie and fantasy gardens at Epic Systems, Part 2 appeared first on Digging.Read MoreDigging

July 30, 2022

The fanciful, theme-park landscaping and architectural design of Epic Systems‘ corporate campus made for a one-of-a-kind tour during the Madison Fling in June. While I’d read about Epic’s imaginative design, I had not heard about its ambitious efforts at sustainability. According to the company’s website:

“Epic’s buildings are all constructed sustainably and powered in part by alternative energy. Farmers crop nearly 350 acres of our land, and we’ve strived to use minimally impervious concretes for our parking structures and roads to prevent runoff. The majority of our parking spaces are also underground, reducing our footprint and preserving the idyllic countryside. Our buildings are heated and cooled by 1000s of miles of geothermal pipes reaching 500 feet underground. As a software company, we recognize that we use a lot of energy – we’ve installed six wind turbines and 18 acres of solar panels to help meet our energy needs. On a bright windy day we’re practically off the grid.”

Hiking across Epic’s expansive campus, we came to a sunny field awash with coneflowers. Beautiful and pollinator friendly? Yes and yes. But also, our guide informed us, this is part of an extensive green-roof system atop an underground parking garage.

Whaaaat?

In fact, nearly all of Epic’s 9,000 parking spaces (as of 2018) are underground, with planted gardens on top. “If this were all surface parking, we’d have between 120 and 150 acres of asphalt,” according to Steve Dickman, Epic’s chief administration officer, in The Country Today. Instead of asphalt and cars baking in the sun, Epic chose coneflowers and other plants, wildlife habitat, rainwater infiltration, heat reduction, and beautiful park-like spaces for their employees to enjoy.

I call that a win-win-win for employees, plants and wildlife, and Planet Earth.

Can you imagine walking outside your office to views like this instead of parking lots?

I can, and it would be a huge selling point.

Of course underground parking garages must be hugely expensive. But everything we can do to make our landscapes and cities more “green” and resilient in the face of climate change is probably our most important endeavor now.

I love this apricot and burgundy color combo.

Meadowy grasses edged with a bit of mown lawn are prettier than just lawn, providing habitat and movement and requiring much less weekly maintenance and water than a lawn.

And at Epic you never know what fantastic beast will be striding through the plants.

Wild West garden

This part of the campus is older than the Storybook Campus I showed in Part 1, but it’s themed as well. The most surprising area to my eyes was an Arizona, red-rock desert garden dubbed the Wild West. What’s this doing in verdant Wisconsin?

Why not?” Epic would answer. Unsurprisingly there were no ocotillos or saguaros. Instead, smoke trees, conifers, coneflowers, grasses, and sedums sub in for desert species. An expanse of red gravel mulch plays up the desert theme, as do expressive mustangs crafted from rusty horseshoes.

A metal dragonfly has alit on one horse’s nose. I’m curious to know what the seedlings coming up in the gravel might be. Any guesses?

In a more densely planted area, a massive serpent seems to slither along the ground, forked tongue tasting the air. Its head doubles as a garden bench.

Its patterned body “disappears” under some rocks and a flowering yucca and pops up again to run nearly the length of a building.

Tropical-style garden

Just beyond the desert garden, a tropical-esque garden of big leaves, bananas, and jungly grasses creates an entirely different feel. A few Flingers hopped on the free Epic bicycles parked all around the campus and took off, enjoying a faster tour with the wind in their hair.

Asian-style garden

Circling around you come to an Asian-inspired office building.

A contemplative Japanese-style garden tucked between two buildings would be a lovely spot for a quiet outdoor lunch.

Here be dragons

Dragon art appears throughout this part of the campus, including a sentimental dragon holding a songbird…

…and a ferocious, three-headed dragon snarling and snapping from a moat.

Rawr!

And more

A few more scenes as we dashed through the campus, like this astronomy-themed building entrance.

A silver chameleon zapping his tongue at something in a metal tree

Shapely pottery totems in a meadow garden

Prairie milkweed offering larval habitat to passing monarch butterflies

Clock-like flowers “blooming” in a birch grove

An epic-sized vase of flowers outside the main entrance

The Tin Man from Oz directing traffic in the visitor and customer parking lot (one of the few surface lots)

And a non-epic — rather modest, in fact — Epic sign.

What a place to work — and visit! Epic Systems invites the public to visit and take a self-guided tour Monday through Friday from 2:30 pm to 5 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. The gardens alone are fascinating, and you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring them. Believe it or not, Epic also allows covid-vaxxed visitors to poke around indoors. I’d love to come back and see the staircase to heaven and elevator to hell; the Harry Potter library, staircase, and astronomy tower; the conference-room treehouse; the rabbit-hole slide between floors; the new castaway-island building; and the Dungeons & Dragons-themed building. My fellow geeks, this place is made for you. Check Epic’s website for updates on visiting times or rules.

Or take a 17-minute video tour of the Epic campus, including interior spaces, on YouTube.

Up next: The creatively mobile driveway garden of Jane and Duane Miller. For a look back at Part 1 of my visit to Epic Systems’ fantasy landscaping and interiors, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Digging Deeper

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. The 6th season kicks off in fall 2022.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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