The $170 million Midwest Express Center will be more than twice the size of the city’s existing convention facility.
Currently being built in two phases, it will occupy four blocks in downtown Milwaukee between Wisconsin Avenue and Kilbourn Avenue and Fourth and Sixth Streets.
The facility will be three stories tall with the second floor spanning Wells Street, which will divide the facility at ground level. One skywalk will connect the Midwest Express Center to the Hyatt Hotel on the mezzanine level and another skywalk on the first floor will connect to the Milwaukee Hilton.
Phase I of construction, which covers two city blocks, began Feb. 14, 1996. It will be completed this month, and will include a 37,506 square-foot ballroom, 32 first-floor and mezzanine-level meeting rooms and two-thirds of the exhibition hall (approximately 125,180 square-feet).
Phase II, which is scheduled to begin in the fall, will include the removal of the current Wisconsin Center facilities (formerly known as MECCA) and the extension of the Midwest Express Center over Wells Street. When completed in December 1999, the entire exhibit hall will measure 188,695 square feet.
The Midwest Express Center’s entire exhibit hall will measure 188,695 gross square feet (gsf). Phase I of construction offers 125,180 gsf of exhibit space designed to industry standards with 30-foot ceilings. It will be divisible into three halls, which also can be combined, measuring 63,060 gsf, 31,005 gsf and 31,115 gsf. Phase II of construction will add 63,115 gsf to the exhibit hall.
The Midwest Express Center’s ballroom is located on the first floor of the facility. It measures 37,506 gsf with 30-foot ceilings. It will be able to accommodate 3,150 diners at 6-foot round tables or can be divided into four smaller rooms.
The first floor and mezzanine level will have meeting rooms of 8,280 gsf, 6,210 gsf and 5,192 gsf. Those rooms will be capable of being partitioned to provide up to 28 meeting and breakout rooms. In addition, the facility’s ballroom also will be able to be divided into four meeting rooms, for a total of 32 available meeting rooms.
The Midwest Express Center is equipped with T-1 Internet cables as well as other technological advances, including fiber optics, satellite links, electronic signs, barcode readers, automated billing and imaging systems, and state-of-the-art security control systems.
Sixteen loading docks and three drive-in ramps on the building’s west side will offer access to the exhibit hall floor. Three docks will be equipped with levelers and the remainder of the docks will have leveling plates.
Electric/utility boxes for most conventional exhibitor needs will be installed in the exhibit hall floor on a 30×30-foot grid. Gas connections will be located at the pillars at 90×90-foot intervals. In addition, air, water and drain connections will be available, as well as high-voltage power supplies.
The ballroom will be equipped to handle large theatrical or corporate presentations, with ample power for PA’s, lights and lasers. All rooms will have complete sound and lighting systems, cable and telephone connections and substantial power supplies, in addition to equipment for video conferencing, multimedia presentations and other communications uses.
The Midwest Express design makes reference to architectural themes in Milwaukee’s historic buildings. But the dominance of glass brings it well beyond the confines of those architectural types. Interior lobby spaces will be lofty and well-lit with two levels of balcony concourses above the main floor.
More than $1 million has been allocated for art to be integrated into the Midwest Express Center and object art – art work commissioned for placement after completion of the facility.
2.7 miles of skywalks will connect the Midwest Express Center to:
Source: Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau