VERONA — After recent expansions with farm and wizard themes, medical software giant Epic Systems is turning to classic literature for its latest novel idea.
Officials from Epic on Monday unveiled plans to Verona’s Plan Commission for Campus Five — five buildings that would add a half-million square feet of office space with tentative designs that pay homage to literature classics like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
The imaginative plans are the latest in series of expansions for the company, which now employs more than 8,000 people on Verona’s west end.
Epic finished its third set of office buildings, called the Farm Campus, in spring 2013, along with an 11,400-seat expandable auditorium known as Deep Space.
At less than 50 percent complete, Epic’s fourth campus expansion, dubbed Wizards Academy, remains about a year from completion, according to Bruce Richards, director of facilities and engineering for the company. Its buildings are meant to mimic the look of older university campuses in the U.S. and university cities in England such as Cambridge and Oxford.
Campus Five, which is yet to be named, won’t house Oompa Loompas, but one of its buildings tentatively includes smokestacks in a nod to Roald Dahl’s children’s classic.
“It’s inspiration. It’s creativity. Creativity is a big part of it. We want to make it interesting for the employees. The whole idea is that we’re a software company so we try to create an atmosphere that is enjoyable to work in and keeps your creativity going,” Richards said.
Plans do not include a price tag, but the five buildings that would make up Campus Five are each planned to be around 100,000 square feet. As with the Wizards Academy campus, one of the buildings would be built atop a parking structure. In total, the five buildings would include room for 1,600 offices and 1,500 parking spaces.
The proposal also calls for a roughly 10-acre stormwater pond that would be 25 to 30 feet deep.
Like Epic’s previous expansions, the project is being designed by the Cuningham Group, a Minneapolis-based architecture firm.
Monday’s meeting was strictly informational and no action was taken. But with stormwater, traffic and neighborhood visibility matters addressed in the plans, Adam Sayre, director of planning and development for Verona, said his staff supports the project.
“Similar to the other Epic buildings, this is very high-quality construction,” he said. “Staff has taken a look at it initially and we have no concerns with it.”
Employee growth has been a major impetus for previous expansions of Epic’s campus. But this time, plans are intended to get more employees their own offices, Richards said.
“We’ve got a lot of people doubled up in offices and we’re trying to get our offices un-doubled,” he said, estimating that 45 percent of Epic employees share offices.
Health care groups using Epic electronic health records serve 54 percent of patients in the U.S. and 2.5 percent of patients worldwide, CEO Judy Faulkner said at Epic’s users group meeting in September.
Campus Five plans will return to the Plan Commission seeking a recommendation in early February before moving to the City Council for approval. If approved, J.H. Findorff & Son could begin construction on the buildings this spring.
Asked by a plan commissioner whether Campus Five would represent the last of Epic’s expansion, Richards responded, “Your guess is as good as mine.”