Wisconsin Center expansion construction progresses with start of concrete decking

Construction workers with Gilbane Building Company and C.D. Smith lay the initial structural concrete decks Tuesday for the Wisconsin Center's expansion project. (Cara Spoto/BizTimes)

After months of site prep work and the erection of two looming tower cranes, the $420 million expansion of the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee has progressed to construction of the building itself.

As grading work continues behind them on the sprawling site, construction workers with Gilbane Building Company and C.D. Smith have begun laying the structural concrete decks, representing the first stage of elevated structure and floor plate of the addition. The concrete decks will support levels 2-4 of the facility, including the parking garage.

Once completed, the expansion project will double the size of the convention center, in the hopes of making Milwaukee more competitive in attracting conventions. Construction broke ground in late October and remains on track for an early 2024 completion.

The structure is expected to rise out of the ground over the course of the next few weeks. See the project’s live construction camera feed here.

Dozens of construction workers were on site on Tuesday. There will be about 500 construction workers on site when the project is at peak operation.

On track, but with costs “delta”

When the project began, Wisconsin Center officials said the plan was for it to be completed by spring 2024. Despite supply chain disruptions and inflation, Sarah Maio, vice president of marketing and communications at the Wisconsin Center District, said the anticipation is that the project will still be completed by then.

“We already have events on the books for May 2024 and beyond so maintaining the timeline is a top priority,” she said. “While there are no guarantees, the owner’s representative, CAA ICON, and the construction management team of Gilbane Smith have built time into the construction calendar to accommodate for unforeseen issues related to supply chain. The project management team reevaluates the calendar on a weekly basis to stay on top of any issues which arise.”

As for the impact of inflation on the cost of the expansion, Maio noted a statement that Marty Brooks, WCD president and CEO, made on May 20, that there was “currently a delta between budget and actual cost.”

Maio added that the WCD should know just what that “delta” is by the WCD Board meeting in August, “where options will be presented to make sure this once-in-a-generation project is completed as proposed.”

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Cara Spoto
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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