Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

New NM Tower Keeps on Rising

Northwestern Mutual's tower is taking its place in city's skyline.

By - Dec 18th, 2015 06:26 pm
Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons Cosntruction

Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons Cosntruction. Photo by Jeramey Jannene. All Rights Reserved.

Walking down E. Mason St. has provided an ever changing scene for the past two years. Out with the sort-of-old, in with the new.

First, Northwestern Mutual‘s 16-story East Building was deconstructed floor-by-floor, with everything from 53 tons of carpet to 67,000 tons of granite being recycled or reused. The process of erasing the 1978 building was largely complete by the middle of 2014, and resulted in a number of new temporary lake views for nearby residents and workers.

Starting in August 2014, construction of the new Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons began. In terms of massing, the Commons portion is largely complete. The three-story building, which will run the length of E. Mason St. from N. Van Buren St. to the new tower on N. Prospect Ave., has had most of its facade installed, including the large glass windows.

The most visible change on E. Mason St. (and now for much of Downtown) is the continued rise of the 33-story Tower portion of the new complex. Less than a year ago, it was a very big hole in the ground. Today, no doubt enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, workers are installing beams well above the tenth floor.

The design of the complex is being led by architecture firm Pickard Chilton, with general contracting work taking place under the guidance of a partnership of Gilbane Building Co. and C.G. Schmidt Inc. The project is expected to cost $450 million and be completed in 2017. Northwestern Mutual has pledged to use city residents for 40 percent of the project’s hours.

When complete, the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons will be the biggest building in Milwaukee at 1.1 million square-feet. The US Bank Center, located just across the street, but slightly downhill, will still be slightly taller, but won’t have as much interior space. Even the new arena won’t have as much interior space.

For more background on the project, including information on the approval process, timelapse videos and more photos, visit our building database page.



If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

5 thoughts on “Friday Photos: New NM Tower Keeps on Rising”

  1. Andrew says:

    Minneapolis has a number of 30+ story buildings, but only one 55 story building. I had hoped that NML would provide Milwaukee with a building that really stood out by being the tallest building downtown. I was saddened to learn they stopped at 33 stories. This is one more way that Minneapolis outdoes Milwaukee, despite our having double the population (though we have a bit less in the multi-county area than it does). Minneapolis has a much better skyline than we do.

  2. Dudemeister says:

    Excellent building design. Just wish it was a little bit further west – less of a gap between it and USB. Have to agree, though, with Andy about Minne having a better skyline. Still the biggest complaint I have about Milwaukee.

    Funny. I was just down there Friday afternoon, taking photos. Good shots!

  3. Jerad says:


    Minneapolis-St. Paul metro is TWICE the size of Milwaukee’s and that makes a huge difference. Fear not, with NM Tower and Commons, The Couture, and NM’s residential tower, you’re adding 550′, 507′ and 366′ towers all within 3 blocks of one another. If the JCI rumors hold true, perhaps we’ll be getting that 50+ story tower so many of us desperately want. Milwaukee punches above its weight with comparable metros, though. You just need to actually have a decent comparable.

  4. Jerad says:

    By the way, Minneapolis has a 52 story building, a 55 story building, and two 56 story buildings.

  5. Nick says:

    Milwaukee’s skyline has a beautiful lake, can’t say that about the twin cities. Secondly, this is just the beginning of new development for Milwaukee. Minneapolis is a beautiful city, but I’ll go with Milwaukee.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us