MSOE to convert U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building into Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment

A rendering gives a glimpse of what the new home for Milwaukee School of Engineering's Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management (CAECM) Department. might look like at 310 E. Knapp St. The building is currently being leased by the U.S. government but will soon be dubbed the Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment. (Rendering courtesy of MSOE)

Last updated on May 7th, 2023 at 10:44 pm

The Milwaukee School of Engineering has unveiled its plans for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building that it recently acquired at 310 E. Knapp St., adjacent to its campus in downtown Milwaukee.

The school announced its purchase of the building, which the U.S. government leases, back in early March, but did not disclose a specific use for the property at the time.

On Friday, the school revealed plans to transform the 58,429-square-foot, 23-year-old structure into the new home for its Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management (CAECM) Department.

Dubbed the Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment, the new academic hall will have an outdoor plaza, an indoor commons area, seven laboratories, six classrooms; and a presentation area. There also will be a dedicated space for faculty, staff and students to collaborate, study, socialize, and work on projects for their competition teams, classes and senior capstones.

Renovation work will begin once the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office has moved to its new location.

Graduates in demand

The CAECM Department offers undergraduate programs in architectural engineering, civil engineering and construction management, and graduate programs in architectural engineering and civil engineering. It is the third largest department at MSOE in terms of student enrollment, creating the need for a dedicated space for programming, the press release states, especially since CAECM students are in such high demand.

Since 2018, nearly every class of graduates from the architectural engineering, civil engineering and construction management programs have enjoyed a 100% graduate outcomes rate, meaning they are employed in their field within six months of graduation.

The term “built environment” encompasses buildings, the distribution of utility systems, and roads, bridges, and transportation systems—essentially everything that is taught in MSOE’s civil engineering, architectural engineering ,and construction management programs.

Giving back

MSOE purchased the building from Sunset Investors for $1,090,500. The building is named for Dr. Kendall G. Breunig, owner and principal of Sunset Investors and an MSOE regent and alumnus.

Bruenig, who graduated from MSOE with an associate degree in 1978 and a bachelor’s degree in 1979, credits his success to the education he received from the university. The developer later received a masters degree in civil engineering from Marquette University in 1987 and was awarded an honorary doctor of engineering from MSOE in 2017. He served as a member of the MSOE Corporation before joining the Board of Regents in 2016.

“MSOE provided the base for my career in design and construction management, but also specifically my real estate development work,” said Breunig. “I am honored to support the university and help other MSOE grads to start successful careers.”

In addition to making the facility available to MSOE at approximately $8 million less than the building’s assessed value, Breunig has committed to give $2 million toward the cost to transform the building into an academic facility, a MSOE press release states. The total cost to renovate the facility is $14 million, and MSOE will be engaging in a campaign to raise private support to fund the entirety of the construction.

“Kendall Breunig has transformed commercial development in the Milwaukee area and across southeastern Wisconsin, building on the skills he honed at MSOE. We are thankful that he is helping MSOE continue its campus improvements,” said Dr. John Walz, MSOE president. “With the Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment, MSOE will continue its tradition of educating the next generation of construction leaders who will design and build the future landscape of our city and beyond.”

MSOE is assembling a steering committee of volunteers to assist in the effort to raise the private funds needed to complete the renovation of the facility.

Plans for the Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment add to a growing list of recent campus improvements for the 120-year-old university. Major campus enhancements in the past five years include the creation of Dwight and Dian Diercks Computational Science Hall, Hermann Viets Tower, The We Energies STEM Center at MSOE, Direct Supply’s Innovation and Technology Center at MSOE, Raiders Stadium, Spitzer Dining Commons and more recently, The Patricia E. Kern Conservatory of Music, MSOE Welcome Center, Raiders Field and the University Terrace.

Cara covers nonprofits, healthcare and education for BizTimes. Cara lives in Waukesha with her husband, a teenager, a toddler, a dog named Neutron, a bird named Potter, and a lizard named Peyoye. She loves music, food, and comedy, but not necessarily in that order.

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