Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

Copper Dome Emerges Downtown

Hammes HQ sports Jeffersonian-style design.

By - Jun 8th, 2018 03:39 pm
The new Hammes headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The new Hammes headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The facade of the Hammes Company‘s new headquarters is being installed, including the signature copper dome. The Brookfield-based healthcare real estate development firm will relocate to the city when the building is finished later this year.

Workers from Miron Construction and a host of subcontractors are hitting the home stretch on building the five-story, 94,000-square-foot building.

Since we last covered the project the company has picked up a major new account. Hammes is leading the master planning of Foxconn’s new $10 billion factory campus in southern Racine County.

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 in October 2016 that he anticipates building the second building within three years.



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7 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Copper Dome Emerges Downtown”

  1. MidnightSon says:

    I’m one of the readers who barked the loudest when the initial design was unveiled. The subsequent changes have made a difference. However, while I’m still not especially fond of the current design, I have to say that the (apparently) darker brown brick makes a real difference to my eye. Not sure if it is just the light, but I prefer it to the lighter red brick portrayed in the renderings. The brown seems to me to be more urban, less suburban.

  2. Dinky says:

    It’s great to see at least one nice building built on Water Street north of McKinley.

  3. Mini Me says:

    What part of the Jeffersonian legacy does Hammes emulate. Seems to be an oxymoron no matter how you cut that cake.

  4. 40+Years in the City says:

    It’s still a “work in progress”, but at the moment, looking at it from the sides, it appears to be a parking structure with an attached office building. Good neighbor for MSOE’s parking structure with an attached soccer pitch.

    I’m hopeful the super-sized parking structure is for the proposed north building as well.

  5. John says:

    Architectural equivalent of Muzak

  6. Steve says:

    Noting that the design is partly by Virginia-based DGP Architects, and having just been to DC and seen what the Dulles corridor has become in the last decade, the design is not surprising to me at all. The Dulles corridor has indeed become a tribute to gawdawful suburban “creative” office park architecture.

    Got to admit that I a not a fan of bland attempts at classicism with modern materials and massing. Just go modern and fun or be a bit more studious about fitting the style to the area. Since that area is pretty devoid of period architecture–though wouldn’t it have been nice if they could have picked up something like the bay windows on the AJ Bomber’s building kitty corner to the SW?–they could have done something more adventurous.

  7. Josh says:

    It actually looks much better than the rendering released.

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