UWP students explore options for Taliesin parking lot

October 23, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE -Maintaining the integrity of the Frank Lloyd Wright design while developing alternative loading dock entrances and parking lot layouts, three students from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville have taken on a project for the Taliesin Visitor Center.

The semester-long project is an assignment for Assistant Dean of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Lisa Riedle's senior design class, culminating the students' engineering education at UWP. Students Leslie Bartelt of Sullivan, Silas Shirley of Cedarburg and Adam Prochaska of Black River Falls are working closely with Carol Johnson of the Taliesin Preservation, Inc., to revamp and relocate the parking lot at the visitor center.

"So far, we've surveyed the area, spoken with Highway C expansion engineers and have worked on preliminary research regarding the history of Frank Lloyd Wright's work so that we can incorporate the feel of his designs into our work," said Bartelt, the student project manager. "We also have to adhere to a number of regulations involved and minimum requirements, such as providing semis with adequate turning space near the loading docks."

Over the next several weeks, the students will delve into the main aspects of the project.

"We'll be designing alternatives for the parking lot and loading dock entrances and assessing the area we have to work with and the materials needed for the project," Shirley said. "There will be a lot of student collaboration and coordinating with different groups."

Thus far, the project has presented the students with a number of issues, requiring them to apply much of the knowledge gained in previous engineering courses to the project.

"The challenge will be developing designs that fit into the existing layout of the parking lot while corresponding with Wright's design," Prochaska said. "There are cliffs on both sides with steep slopes limiting the semi turning space."

"The area is also known for its poor soil," Bartelt said. "We don't want to have to do too much cutting into the slopes or create a design that would require us to bring in new soil or other base materials."

Toward the end of the semester, the students will present the Taliesin Preservation Board, the director of the Taliesin Visitor Center and Highway C engineers with several options for the parking lot layout. While the project may not be implemented immediately, Bartelt said the project is not theoretical.

"Eventually, down the road, we know something will happen with the project and renovations will be made to the parking lot," Bartelt said. "That's what makes this project so valuable, it's an actual project and not a theoretical problem found in a book. We're really getting excellent hands-on experience."

In addition to learning more about transportation issues involved in design projects, the students are experiencing the political side of engineering.

"Working with a client and other engineers involved in different aspects of the project has been a new learning experience," Prochaska said. "We've had to incorporate Wisconsin Department of Transportation regulations and those of other social and environmental agencies and governing groups. The senior design project really takes everything we've learned so far and applies it to a real-world situation."

All three students anticipate graduating in December 2002. Bartelt is majoring in civil engineering with a geo-technical and construction emphasis. She is the daughter of Michael and Lynn Elliot of Sullivan and a 1997 graduate of Milwaukee Lutheran High School. Bartelt is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the health education group Esteem and plans to work as an engineering consultant in municipal engineering for R.A. Smith and Associates, Inc., in Brookfield.

Shirley is majoring in civil engineering with a geo-technical and environmental emphasis. He is the son of William and Roberta Shirley of Cedarburg and a 1997 graduate of Cedarburg High School. Shirley is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Associated General Contractors and plans to pursue a career as an engineering consultant or contractor.

Prochaska is majoring in civil engineering with a geo-technical emphasis. He is the son of Monica Prochaska of Black River Falls and a 1998 graduate of Black River Falls High School. Prochaska is a member of the Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society and the Sigma Tau Gamma social fraternity and plans to attend graduate school in geo-technical engineering.

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