Epic Systems campus, a fantasyland of gardens and architecture, Part 1

July 29, 2022

One of the coolest, most eye-catching destinations on the Madison Fling Tour in June was the corporate headquarters of medical-software giant Epic Systems, located in the rolling farm country of Verona, Wisconsin. Soulless lawns, sprawling junipers, boxwood hedges and other ubiquitous ground-fillers of corporate landscaping have been banished to the AP. God knows what they spend on garden design and maintenance, not to mention architecture and interior design, but the result is a lush, color-saturated, over-the-top playland for adults. Walking through Epic’s 1,100-acre campus is like stepping into Oz in all its technological glory. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

The 43-year-old company, founded by billionaire CEO Judy Faulkner, “has 9,800 employees…and $2.9 billion in annual revenue. More than 250 million people worldwide have medical records on software developed by Epic,” according to Madison.com. “Epic’s Verona campus includes… 22 office buildings, two large food service buildings, a training center with 65 training rooms and a 5,800-seat auditorium, and the Deep Space Auditorium with 11,400 seats.”

Truly epic.

Due to time constraints and the sheer size of the place, we only saw a portion of the Epic campus, which is organized into 5 smaller campuses of theme-park-like office buildings. Today in Part 1, I’ll show you the Storybook Campus with 5 buildings and gardens representing classic children’s stories, starting with Oz.

oz

A green-tiled building with spiked turrets in Oz stands for the Emerald City — and yes, hordes of red poppies lead to it (thankfully, not drugs).

These poppies are ever-blooming metal — surprise!

It’s playful and creative. I like it.

A pumpkin-headed scarecrow points the way.

But watch out for apple-throwing apple trees!

He does not take kindly to being picked on.

Tilework in the Emerald City building

And a last look at the apple tree across the poppies. Beyond this is a dome of green-red onions…

Jules Verne

…Jules Verne building, referencing Around the world in 80 days And Twenty thousand leagues under the sea.

In front of the building is a garden of grass and salvia like a rippling, blue-green sea.

And lo and behold, there was the giant squid wrapping its tentacled arms around Nautilus In the blue glass pond.

Chocolate factory

Next door, an industrial-looking building invites you in through a “chocolate” arch.

A garden of perennial flowers, shrubs and trees in front of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

I bet the pollinators love this garden.

Playful glass spirals à la Chihuly…

And orbs add extra color.

The purple salvia is complemented by a purple lollipop-like orb. Seen in the distance…

Grimm

…a Northern European-style structure that evokes Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Nordic-looking trees and grasses create the illusion of a meadow at the edge of the forest.

A fairy ring of toadstools stands in the meadow grass.

A red-capped gnome appears to warn you with a concerned expression.

It is all done on a huge scale. And how beautiful is the meadow grass instead of the lawn, isn’t it?

Of course there is a gingerbread house in Grimm.

It’s a conference room! Outside, Little Red Riding Hood wolf dressed as a grandmother stands to greet you.

How big are your teeth?

Alice

hints Alice in Wonderland The Cheshire cat at the window appeared nearby smiling…

…and another lay down in the garden bed.

The Emerald City is a bit confusing in the background, but I believe it’s the croquet lawn of the Queen of Hearts, where one size makes you bigger and one size makes you smaller.

Shades of green and gold in Wonderland

The entrance to the Alice building is decorated with card guards and hearts.

We got to see inside the Ellis Building, and what a surprise! Epic goes all in a theme

I had forgotten that Wonderland had an upside-down room, but Epic didn’t. A staircase, chandelier, and hat rack float upside down…

…and even a bird in a cage. Can you imagine working in an office surrounded by such playful decorations? Will it inspire creativity? Will you go blind over time? I wonder…

King’s Cross Station

A few minutes later we were suddenly between King’s Cross Station in London and the Kingdom harry potter.

In the middle of the “station” – a cafeteria, with train platforms labeled along the walls. I looked but could not see platform 9-3/4. Copyright issues, I guess.

Mural hallway

Another hallway provides a canvas for colorful murals, including a rainbow-esque stretch of…

…an anime-style face…

… and a … yellow panda?

It reminds me of a Banksy.

In a lobby/dining hall I saw a sculptural work depicting North American fauna.

Or perhaps mother nature?

Next: Part 2 of my tour of Epic’s campus, a large green roof with prairie perennials and more themed gardens. For a look back at Rita Thomas’ sun-shade garden, click here.

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All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Excavation. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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