Construction on Wisconsin Center expansion makes progress with concrete pour, tower crane

First event booked for May 2024

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The $420 million Wisconsin Center expansion hit two milestones Tuesday as crews completed the project’s first large concrete pour and began to erect a 230-foot tower crane at the site, which is situated north of the existing convention center building long North Kilbourn Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

Over the course of the day, approximately 450 cubic yards of concrete will be poured for the foundation of the structure’s underground storm trap system.

Serving as a storage area for stormwater runoff, the three storm traps will help reduce water runoff on the streets and “minimize the stress that rainwater is putting on the city’s sewer system,” said Mary Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Center District.

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The creation of the storm trap contributes to the project’s sustainability targets and will help the Wisconsin Center achieve LEED silver certification for the expansion.

“This is not mandated or required for us to do but something we thought was critical as part of the entire design of the project was making sure that we improve the impact of the facility,” said Brooks. “… How do we be a good neighbor by expanding our footprint?”

Tuesday’s concrete pour was overseen by project owner’s representative CAA ICON and construction management partners Gilbane Building Co. and C.D. Smith.

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The project will double the size of the convention center, which will help make Milwaukee more competitive in attracting conventions. Construction broke ground in late October and remains on track for an early 2024 completion. See the project’s live construction camera feed here.

“Our first confirmed event is scheduled to start loading in on Saturday, May 8, 2024,” said Brooks.

Once the tower crane is up, crews can begin assembling the steel “skeleton” of the building, working from west to east, said Brooks. The structure is expected to rise out of the ground within the next couple of weeks. Other work going on at the site includes digging foundations and overhead demolition on West Wells Street for the center’s skybridge, which will be used by employees to travel between the existing building and the new addition.

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There were about 115 construction crew members on-site Tuesday, and that number grows by the day, said Ally Dahlgren, safety manager at Gilbane Building Co. There will be about 500 construction workers at peak operation.

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