Kahler Slater will move its headquarters to the BMO Tower, the new 25-story downtown Milwaukee office building that the Milwaukee-based architecture firm helped design.
The frim announced today that it will move its 95 local employees into 15,000 square feet on the building's 17th floor in August.
Kahler Slater will move to the BMO Tower, located at 790 N. Water St., from the nearby ASQ Center, at 111 W. Wisconsin Ave., located about three blocks away in downtown's Westown neighborhood. The BMO Tower is located in downtown's East Town neighborhood.
The firm's office space at the new location will be half the size of its current space, as it now occupies nearly 30,000 square feet, said Glenn Roby, executive vice president of Kahler Slater.
“A move to the BMO Tower gives us an opportunity to design for our needs in a time when the fundamental value of the workplace is being redefined,” Roby said. “This is a great opportunity to position the firm for the future.”
The space is being designed according to the direction Kahler Slater sees itself headed. Although it has always had flexible work options for employees, Kahler Slater expects its people to more frequently elect to work offsite following the COVID-19 pandemic. It anticipates having on average of about 80% of staffers in the office on any given workday, Roby said.
As such, the firm will take advantage of the building's amenities including its large conference room. Kahler Slater's offices also will include collaborative and breakout spaces.
The pandemic also made the BMO Tower more attractive, due to features such as its new HVAC system and new technologies such as touchless elevators. Roby said the "flight to quality" office spaces has been happening for years, and that trend is likely to continue because of the pandemic.
Roby said when the firm first sought out new locations, it considered both new developments and existing buildings. It considered locations in downtown both east and west of the Milwaukee River, and the Historic Third Ward. Ultimately, the central business district made the most sense for the firm, Roby said.
Milwaukee-based Irgens Partners LLC developed and manages the BMO Tower. The building opened earlier this year.
Not only did Irgens work with Kahler Slater on the project, it also used to be the architecture firm's landlord. Irgens owned large portions of the ASQ Center until summer 2018, when it sold the space to the owners of The Avenue, the neighboring former Grand Avenue mall.
Kahler Slater's move will only be a few blocks. That is a benefit in that employees will have an easy transition from one place to the next, Roby said. Plus, they still have access to all of the amenities downtown has to offer.
"We've been in Westown a long time," he said. "We've been very active in Westown and have been proud of its recent re-emergence. We didn't want to take that lightly, but we knew we weren't going far."
In a statement, Mayor Tom Barrett applauded Kahler Slater's decision to stay downtown.
"For a long time, the people at Kahler Slater have known about the advantages of being in the center of the city of Milwaukee," he said. "There is no better place in the state to take full advantage of the proximity, activity and vitality found in an urban downtown."