Hammes Revises Controversial Design
City panel approves a shorter, stouter building. Will that stop the complaints?
The Hammes Company received a thumbs-up today from the City Plan Commission on a minor design modification to their proposed downtown headquarters. As part of the deal originally announced in October, the real estate firm would relocate from their suburban Brookfield office to the new building downtown. Hammes will occupy about one-third of the five-story, 94,000 square-foot office building and lease out the rest.
The noteworthy modification recommended for approval by the commission today was to reduce the height of the proposed dome by five-feet, seven-inches and change the windows on the fifth floor. According to Hammes senior project executive Steve Kroening, “We felt that the dome was a little bit out of scale with the rest of the design.”
The building, which is to built in a classical style, wasn’t met with universal approval when it was unveiled last year. Mayor Tom Barrett and area alderman Nik Kovac were effusive in their praise for the design when it was announced, as was firm CEO and founder Jon Hammes. Yet the building was so widely panned by armchair architects in the Urban Milwaukee comments section when it was originally unveiled that we ran a second article just breaking down the feedback as well as a column by architecture critic Tom Bamberger panning it.
The proposed building is being designed by a partnership of Virginia-based DGP Architects and Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects. Hammer representatives originally announced they would break ground on the project in December 2016, but have yet to start construction.
A conditional approval was also recommended by the commission for the relocation of a utility cabinet should Hammes and We Energies fail to reach an agreement on placing utility components in the proposed 360-stall parking garage.
The designs currently included in the Detailed Plan Development reflect only the first phase of a two-phase project. A 100,000 square-foot, six-story second phase for the project would be built to the north within three years according to Hammes.
Commissioner Whitney Gould, the former architecture critic at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, raised the issue of mitigating the design impacts of the blank wall on the building’s north side should the second phase never be built, but Kroening replied that the firm is confident they will move ahead with the second phase.
Gould also noted while casting the lone vote in opposition to the modification that she wanted to renew her objections to the design. Gould stated “this is going to become an object lesson for the future on how not to build a building.” She applauded the developers for moving downtown, but stated that she didn’t think the building would attract young people to the company. She concluded her remarks stating “I wish the developers had rethought the entire concept.”
- Hammes Building An Obvious Mistake – November 21st, 2016 – Tom Bamberger
- How Bad (or Good) is Hammes HQ Design? – October 24th, 2016 – Jeramey Jannene
- Hammes Moving Downtown in 2018 – October 21st, 2016 – Jeramey Jannene
- Why Businesses Are Moving to the City – April 21st, 2015 – Bruce Murphy
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