Northwestern Mutual reveals tower design

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. today unveiled the design for the new $450 million, 32-story, 1.1-million-square-foot office tower that it plans to build at its downtown Milwaukee corporate headquarters campus.

“Northwestern Mutual will change our skyline in a dramatic and positive way,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Click here to see a slideshow of renderings for the building.

The building design features curved glass panels arcing southeast toward Lake Michigan. An adjoining three-story space, known as Northwestern Mutual Commons, will feature a visitors’ center, café and outdoor dining. Public access will be available from Wisconsin Avenue and Mason Street to the Commons. An adjacent green space of almost three acres of gardens, trees, a water feature, tables, benches and walkways, called Northwestern Mutual Gardens, will be open to the public.

“Inside and out, Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons reflects our belief in the city that we have called home for almost our entire history,” said chairman, president and chief executive officer John Schlifske. “This development symbolizes our confidence in Milwaukee and the passion and pride our policyowners, employees and financial representatives feel for their company.”

The new Northwestern Mutual building will replace a 16-story, 452,000- square-foot building on its headquarters campus. That building, constructed in 1978, needs significant structural repairs, renovations and upgrades so the company plans to tear it down and replace it with the new building. Demolition work will begin in December.

The new building is being designed by New Haven, Conn.-based Pickard Chilton, which is the design architect for the project. Houston-based Kendall/Heaton Associates isthe architect of record for the project. The firm has collaborated with Pickard Chilton on several projects. Chicago-based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates will be the interior architect for the project. Houston-based Hines is the development manager for the project.

“From the start, Northwestern Mutual’s leadership sought to build a headquarters representative of their corporate ethos of doing the right thing,” said Jon Pickard, principal of Pickard Chilton. “To us, that meant designing a building of enduring beauty and value that respectfully balances the expectations of policyowners with the desire for a state-of-the-art workplace, while making significant contributions to its campus and Milwaukee’s urban vitality. I believe our design successfully achieves these goals.”

“We wanted to create a beautiful complement to the Milwaukee skyline from the start, but this is first of all a workplace that has to meet the practical needs of our business,” Schlifske said. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create greater efficiency and more employee collaboration, as well as additional energy and excitement for the community.”

About 1,100 employees work in the building that will be torn down. Those employees will be moved to the new building and the company plans to add another 1,900 employees there by 2030.

The city is providing $54 million in tax incremental financing (TIF) for the project.
Construction is expected to begin in the latter half of 2014 and the project is expected to be complete in 2017.

More than three dozen local companies have already received contracts related to the construction project, according to Northwestern Mutual.

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