Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

Classical Dome Appears Downtown

Hammes Co.'s new headquarters distinctive design clearly visible.

By - Nov 3rd, 2017 03:43 pm
The new Hammes HQ. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The new Hammes HQ. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Downtown has a new dome. The Hammes Company‘s new five-story, 94,000 square-foot headquarters is rising from the ground on the north end of downtown Milwaukee, and the building’s distinctive dome is now clearly visible. The Brookfield-based healthcare consulting company will relocate to the building when it’s completed in 2018.

The project at 210 E. Knapp St., which doesn’t include any public financing, is welcome news for the city. It will turn a vacant site into a steady stream of revenue to pay for police, teachers and pothole repair. But its reception among Urban Milwaukee readers has been mixed with many criticizing its classical style. City Plan Commission member Whitney Gould chastised the building at a hearing on the project by stating “this is going to become an object lesson for the future on how not to build a building.” Urban Milwaukee architecture critic Tom Bamberger declared that “The Hammes headquarters…has none of the virtues of Jefferson’s architecture and all the vices of late 20th century suburban development.”

The comments at an October 2016 press conference announcing the project couldn’t have been more different. Mayor Tom Barrett offered nothing but praise. Alderman Nik Kovac, who represents the site, called it a “classic, strong masonry building.” He went on to salute the integration of the 360-stall parking garage. That’s no small compliment, as Kovac gives his annual “the good, the bad and the ugly” tour of downtown parking garages as part of Doors Open Milwaukee.

The building is being designed by a partnership of Virginia-based DGP Architects and Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects. And while firm CEO and founder Jon Hammes has cited Thomas Jefferson as inspiration for the project, he’s using at least one building material Jefferson never had access to – steel. The steel skeleton of the building, which will eventually be hidden by a more traditional brick facade, is clearly visible today. Miron Construction is leading the construction of the building.

Approximately 80 Hammes employees will occupy 36,000 square feet on the top two floors of the building. The remaining space, including street-level commercial space, is available for lease.

The building, including the attached parking garage, is expected to cost between $27 million and $30 million to build. Hammes acquired the 1.5-acre parcel in 2015 from BMO Harris Bank for $1 million. The triangular-shaped lot is bordered by E. Knapp St., N. Market. St. and N. Water St.

A second phase is planned immediately north of the building. The second building, also planned for offices, will range anywhere from five to eight floors according to Hammes, with 90,000 to 100,000 square-feet, depending on market demand. Hammes told Urban Milwaukee last October that he anticipates building the second building within three years.

The firm is one of many moving from the suburbs to the city. Immediately north of the Hammes project marketing firm Bader Rutter recently moved into a a new office building dubbed 1433 WaterSee inside that building from a tour in May.



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4 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Classical Dome Appears Downtown”

  1. Mike says:

    I like the design. Stately & makes a statement that they are making a permanent investment into the city.

    Happy to see them coming downtown.

  2. Max says:

    Yes, for sure we ought to pay attention to experts like WG & TB whose recent design work on the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and contributions to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona have been widely praised. Oh wait, WG & TB have never designed nor built anything? One writes stuff and one takes pictures? Guess that qualifies someone as an ‘expert’ on architecture. Welcome to Milwaukee Hammes Company, your building is fantastic.

  3. Phyllis Wax says:

    It would help me visualize where this building is if the photo captions read “Looking east on Knapp St.” or “looking south on Water St.”. Otherwise I find these articles very interesting!

  4. James Maurer says:

    This is the most tasteful classically styled building built in Milwaukee since the early 1900’s. It’s beautiful design is definitely a contrast to the surrounding soulless “boxes” . It is an inspirational and uplifting and will be a landmark for generations…

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