Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Bucks Unveil New Signs for Arena

Two huge signs will add life to arena, but will trees grow on concrete plaza?

By - Feb 14th, 2017 10:00 am
LED sign.

LED sign.

The Milwaukee Bucks development arm secured approval from the City Plan Commission Monday for a number of modifications to the new arena’s exterior design. The most notable to be approved were a 15-foot tall by 85-foot long LED sign that will bend around the building’s northwest corner and a second “folly” sign, as it was called, that fans will be able to interact with in the plaza outside the arena’s eastern entrance.

The LED video board will be visible for those entering Downtown from the McKinley Ave. off-ramp on Interstate 43, as well as people headed south on N. 6th St. or east on W. Juneau Ave.

But the LED video sign won’t always be turned on. A key design feature assures that when the sign is turned off it will be transparent, according to architect Gabe Braselton of Populous. This is similar to signs installed on other new arenas including Wembley Stadium in London and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

In a response to a question from City Plan Commission member J. Allen Stokes about distracted drivers and fast moving signs, the architect noted the sign wouldn’t be running live action video and would conform to city digital sign guidelines.

The second sign, which will read “BUCKS” in large letters, is intended as a bit of place making for the large plaza being built over the former N. 4th St. Braselton stated the plaza presents “a great opportunity for not only a monument, but to create a playful sculpture.”

The Milwaukee Bucks sign and chair.

The Milwaukee Bucks sign and chair.

Unlike the digital LED ribbon that will be on the building’s second floor, the BUCKS sign will be decidedly analog and rest on the ground. Braselton noted the sign will be a great location for fans to take photos, with the east facing sign reading BUCKS to those approaching the arena, and the sign’s west face including seating built on it where fans can sit and interact with the sign and the scene. The seating component will be built of wood.

Perhaps the sign’s playfulness explains the use of the term “folly,” which was never explained. (Any experts on this please share your thoughts in comments section.)

Construction of the $524 million arena complex, which is currently known as the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, pending a naming rights deal, is well underway. Learn more about the arena project from our most recent installment of Friday Photos tracking the arena’s construction progress.

Not shown in the new renderings is a skywalk that will cross W. Juneau Ave. from the new parking garage to the arena. That skywalk will be immediately east of the new LED sign.

The commission unanimously recommended the design changes for approval to the full council.

Will The Trees Grow?

Newly appointed Plan Commission member Preston Cole, who also serves as the head of the Department of Neighborhood Services, questioned the Bucks on their plans to plant so many trees in the concrete plaza. Cole cited failed examples of this, including the trees ringing the parking garage currently serving the BMO Harris Bradley Center and Milwaukee Area Technical College, that have never grown beyond a few inches tall.

Cole cited the 16th Street pedestrian mall in downtown Denver as an example of a place where trees in concrete that have grown successfully to a significant size.

Why does Cole know so much about trees? Prior to rising to the top of DNS, Cole ran the Forestry Services division of the city’s Public Works Department.


2 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Bucks Unveil New Signs for Arena”

  1. Sam B says:

    A “folly” is landscape term with it’s origins in English gardens. It is typically a stand-alone decorative ornament, either a sculpture or small building, which is intended to create a sense of intrigue or amusement.

  2. Henry Loeser says:

    You want folly? how ’bout statues of Robert Traylor or Larry Sanders…

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