American Family Insurance “The Spark” Office Building

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Areas of Expertise: Fire Protection, HVAC, Plumbing

The Spark is a nine-story building developed by American Family Insurance. It houses company offices and a City-sponsored entrepreneurial collaborative.

The Spark was developed around standards set by the International WELL Being Institute. This organization offers a third-party certification program that focuses on improving health and the human experience through design. To exemplify the benefit of this approach, The Spark uses half the energy of a typical Midwest office building.

Various components of The Spark were prefabricated to support construction efforts. Over 80% of the project utilized prefabricated modular wall panels. Six trade crews installed their work on panels off site allowing for earlier window installation. A crew half the size typically required for a project of this nature installed all panels.

The Spark has a backup generator to keep all functions of the building operational for 24 hours, geoexchange, redundant chillers, boilers, cooling towers, and pumps for resiliency. The backup system was put to the test in 2019 when a nearby utility substation caught fire. The Spark’s backup generator maintained full power during the five-hour power outage.