Irgens Installing Highest Green Roof in City
Part of transformation of 52-year-old office tower.
As part of its transformation of the former M&I Bank Building, now known as 770 North, Irgens Partners is installing a green roof atop the 20-story tower. The green roof will be the highest in the city when it’s completed later this week.
The 305,600-square-foot building, located at 770 N. Water St., is situated near the center of Downtown. The new green roof’s tray-based system will be able to hold 6,322 gallons of stormwater, reducing the strain on the combined sewer system.
It’s one of many upgrades planned to the 52-year-old office tower, which Irgens acquired as part of its development of the new, 25-story BMO Tower for BMO Harris Bank. BMO Harris acquired M&I Bank in 2011.
Despite the fact that the green roof is located atop an office tower and inaccessible to the public, it will produce an aesthetic benefit. Law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, which leases space atop the adjacent BMO Tower, has a great view of the roof from its offices.
To build the green roof system, a crane hoists pallets loaded with rectangular trays of pre-grown plants to the top of the building from a parking lot along N. Broadway.
MM Schranz Roofing is leading the installation of the roof, Live Roof is supplying the plants and New Eden Landscape Architecture is leading the design.
The green roof is one of many in the area. The city office building at 809 N. Broadway has one, as does the three-story “Commons” portion of Northwestern Mutual‘s 2018 tower. The Milwaukee Public Library‘s Central Library and Rockwell Automation‘s Walker’s Point headquarters also sport environmentally-friendly roofs.
BMO, for which many employees are still working remotely, will complete its relocation in the coming weeks. At that point Irgens will ramp up the redevelopment of the interior of the existing tower.
The real estate firm plans to market the building to future office tenants. It once considered redeveloping a portion of the building as apartments or a hotel, but ultimately stuck with the property’s long-time use, commercial office space.
The firm cleaned the exterior of the building in 2019, part of an overhaul of the building’s glazing system (windows) designed at improving energy-efficiency. Elevators and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system are also being upgraded.
Developer Mark Irgens told Urban Milwaukee in 2019 that due to asbestos and other design issues the building’s interior will be almost entirely gutted. Marble lobbies and other signature elements will be maintained, but the goal is to create a modern office building from a half-century-old structure.
The former M&I Building is connected to the new BMO Tower via a multi-building lobby. Fiddleheads Coffee will open a cafe in that space in the coming months. BMO Harris will operate a signature branch bank at the base of the new tower.
Irgens has launched a leasing website for the 770 North tower.
That lot will eventually become a pocket park as part of the broader development plan from the real estate firm.
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