Dr. Bronner wanted his building to appear grand at street level on all four sides of the block. The Tower did not have a rear side, and its design precluded rooftop equipment. Of course, we could not avoid a loading dock and service entrance, but the required emergency generators, huge cooling towers and a row of giant chillers just could not be easily hidden. The attendant louvers, vents and tanks just do not lend themselves to polished granite and glass.
Faced with this seemingly unsolvable problem, we decided to locate all the support machinery across McDonough Street in a buried structure on a separate piece of property which the RSA also owned. The remote site was an oddly shaped fourth of a block and it backed up to the Madison Car Wash. We connected the two structures — the Tower itself and its remote sunken chiller plant — with a utility tunnel beneath McDonough.
Thus the chiller plant and main electric service for the Tower are really housed in a giant buried room virtually hidden from the casual observer. The only machinery above ground are the huge cooling towers which serve the chillers. You don’t see the towers because we wrapped them with an 18-foot high battered concrete screen wall.
Yard for yard, the chiller site probably generated more intrigue and peril than any other site we ever worked on, and several of those stories follow. There was our scheme to control the car wash owners, the premises rule, the flume of poison dirt, the absurd delay claim, the confrontation with ADEM and the maintenance building false start. Even the Pavilion Park, was built on the leftover ground of the chiller site.
-Charles Humphries (“Peril and Intrigue Within Architecture”)