Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Public Museum Selects Architects, Contractors for New Home

Five firms will guide design and development for new home for MPM and Betty Brinn Children's Museum.

By - Jan 29th, 2021 10:39 am
Milwaukee Public Museum Reef Rendering. Rendering Luci Creative

Milwaukee Public Museum Reef Rendering. Rendering Luci Creative

It will be late 2025 at the earliest when a new home for the Milwaukee Public Museum and Betty Brinn Children’s Museum opens, but the public museum announced a major milestone in the project’s development this week.

MPM, announced a team of three architecture firms to design both the structure and interior spaces. It also announced a contracting team to build it. The natural history museum will own the building and lease space to the children’s museum.

Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater will partner with New York City-based Ennead Architects. The Milwaukee firm has had a role in many area cultural projects, most recently leading the design of the Bradley Symphony Center. The New York City firm brings a specialty in museums as well as experience designing embassies, performing arts centers and large education buildings.

Thinc Design, also based in New York City, will lead MPM exhibit design and touts experience designing the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and 15 other museum projects on its website.

The Betty Brinn space will be designed by the Kahler Slater and Ennead team.

“The museum intentionally brought the exhibit and architectural design teams on simultaneously so that the building itself reflects the content inside,” said MPM in announcing the design team. “These designers will embark on a process that builds on the conceptual work the museum has been doing and centers on the heart of the museum experience — the four million objects and specimens that tell the interconnected history of our natural and cultural worlds.”

The new building, located at the northeast corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave., will contain exhibit space, visitor services, a cafe, retail store, underground parking, collections research and storage, classrooms, an auditorium, event venue space, offices, a small workshop for exhibit maintenance and back-of-house spaces.

A final cost estimate for the project will be announced after the design work is completed.

The general contracting team will be led by a partnership of Mortenson Construction and ALLCON. The former is a Minnesota-based firm with a substantial Wisconsin presence. It led the construction of Fiserv Forum, two blocks south of the MPM project. The latter firm is a Hispanic, female-owned firm based in Butler that is certified as a small business enterprise and disadvantaged business enterprise.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for ALLCON to empower ourselves by evolving our knowledge and abilities through this collaborative effort with Mortenson,” said ALLCON president Ana Lopez.

“As designing and building a new museum will have national and global significance and will be a point of pride for Wisconsinites for generations to come, we searched for the best talent both locally and globally,” said Ellen Censky, president and CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum. “We are thrilled with the group we’ve assembled and feel they will capture the interconnection of nature and culture through time and space using design as part of this exciting process.”

MPM, currently located at 800 W. Wells St., has been publicly pursuing a new facility for over five years.

In September it announced that it had agreements to acquire three properties covering 2.4 acres in the Haymarket neighborhood. The sites are currently addressed as 1310-1312 N. 6th St.1340 N. 6th St. and 520 W. McKinley Ave. and have an assessed value of $3.1 million. One-story warehouses are located on each property.

The site is immediately north of the newly-constructed Fiserv Forum parking garage and attached Five Fifty Ultra Lofts apartments. An on-ramp to Interstate 43 is directly west of the facility and multiple Milwaukee County Transit System routes serve the area.

In 2018 MPM released conceptual plans for a $150 million, stand-alone facility on a generic site.

Project Site

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.

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Public Museum Selects Architects, Contractors for New Home”

  1. 45 years in the City says:

    Have the solvency / governance issues that happened about 15 years ago been adequately addressed?
    https://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/us/a-struggle-for-solvency-at-milwaukee-museum.html

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