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Old August 18th, 2008, 10:49 PM   #1
Skyking2
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Milwaukee's New Tallest

Milwaukee's New Tallest

While there's a fair amount of development going on in and around Downtown Milwaukee currently, there are also many proposals which seem stalled or going nowhere fast. Hopefully, some of the proposed projects will become reality in the near future. But in the meantime, let's dream a little. If you could build/design a new tallest tower in Downtown Milwaukee, what would it look like and where would you build it?

Density is a critical factor in a city's landscape, but there's no question that taller buildings can really transform a skyline and make it memorable and identifiable. The US Bank building (originally First Wisconsin, then FirstStar) has dominated Milwaukee's struggling skyline for over 35 years. So, in order to help achieve a more balanced and dynamic skyline, what type of signature tower would you build and where?

(Footnote: A business associate of mine from Charlotte, NC was in Milwaukee for the first time last month, and here's what he said as we drove into and around Downtown: "You don't have much in the way of taller buildings here, do you?" After noting the US Bank building as the only tall building, he reminded me of the many new, tall buildings under construction in Charlotte. He said, "I'm surprised. I figured a larger city like Milwaukee would have had more of a skyline.")
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Old August 18th, 2008, 10:57 PM   #2
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Charlotte is the number one booming city in the country right now. Their office vacancy rate is literally .5%. Most of the midwest is somewhere between a 10-20% vacancy rate. In addition, all of the construction there is being done for just two companies: Wachovia and Bank of America.

Milwaukee isn't growing as quickly as Charlotte (nor is any other midwestern city, on a percentage basis), therefore, we don't have many major high-rise office proposals. Jobs = new high rises, not just the desire to have new high rises. Also, Charlotte drops off from 50-story towers to surface parking lots across the street. That's not necessarily better.

You know what else Charlotte has? Light rail (and it's beating all ridership estimates)!! Heaven forbid. If Milwaukee had a better way for people to get downtown without their cars, we wouldn't have to pay for a 2,000 car parking garage for every office building and we would see a lot more being built.

However, if I were to choose where one would be built, I would put it east of the river, north of Wisconsin Avenue...either the parking lot across from the Pfister, the Milwaukee Athletic Club site, or behind M&I.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 11:39 PM   #3
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Since moving back to Milwaukee and living in the immediate "downtown" area, I've learned that a skyline is really of very little significance to a city. I'm more worried about things to do down here, and Milwaukee has added, and is still adding lots of that. Sure, a skyline serves as a nice first impression, but should be the last thing to define a city.

That said, several of the current projects (Moderne, Lake Pointe, Ghazi) would be great to add density and then add something that hits the 50+ mark to take the mark away from US Bank. Something cylindrical and glassy. The landscape of Milwaukee really changes things. There's times when the skyline looks sparse, and times when it looks quite dense.

EDIT - Good thread though. We need to talk about something because times are DEAD around here, right now.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 12:13 AM   #4
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Man, the thread title was a huge teaser for me.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 12:59 AM   #5
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Yeah, this was a big teaser for me too Our skyline isn't terrible, but it could be better. If you check out SSP or maybe it's here too, there was a fantasy Wells Tower proposal and I get a kick out of that
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Old August 19th, 2008, 02:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DooMer_MP3 View Post
Since moving back to Milwaukee and living in the immediate "downtown" area, I've learned that a skyline is really of very little significance to a city. I'm more worried about things to do down here, and Milwaukee has added, and is still adding lots of that. Sure, a skyline serves as a nice first impression, but should be the last thing to define a city.
Exactly my thoughts. Milwaukee's downtown is one of the largest in the Midwest, and offers mile after beautiful mile of quality urban experiences. I've come to learn that the "urban experience" trumps height any day.

Between the urban environments offered by Milwaukee and its smaller brother Madison, Wisconsin's great cities do a wonderful job of offering more than initially meets the visitor's eye.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 03:00 AM   #7
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I can't speak from a design perspective, as I have no idea what I think would look good. I'd like it to look modern and have lots of glass, though. Ideally, I think you'd want it east of the river, north of Wisconsin Ave, and sitting up the hill from Water Street, but as far from the US Bank building as possible and fitting that criteria. That way, it would hopefully fit in with the view from the lake, coming up from either 794 or 94, and from McKinley coming off 43. I suppose Ogden and Jefferson would be the best place to try it.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 07:37 AM   #8
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I know this isn't really the place for talking about proposals, and I havent heard anything about this for quite a long time now, but I remember the World Trade Center Wisconsin said it was considering building a structure of possibly 40+ stories, which would probably be the tallest in the city.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 07:44 AM   #9
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are there any renderings out there?
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Old August 19th, 2008, 07:58 AM   #10
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Well, I suppose since I sarted this thread -- and, sorry, I didn't mean to "tease" anybody into thinking there was actually a new tallest coming -- I should offer my two cents. I'd like to see a mix-use building (especially since that seems to offer the best chance of any real height) of 45-55 stories, or about 650-700 feet. It would have primarily a glassy exterior, perhaps a blue or even a reddish color, and tapered to an interesting peak or top. In other words, not a box-top like US Bank, Chase, 411, etc. See Cinicinnati's newest tallest, Queen City Square. While the tiara top sort of cheats and adds about 100 feet of height, it appears art deco and should provide that city with a memorable signature tower...pretty nice, IMHO. And as for a location of Milwaukee's new tallest, I've long ago stated that I like the parking lot East of the Pfister on Jefferson. I think this general location would work best for a new tallest to bridge the existing skyline.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 09:36 AM   #11
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I would put something in the 50-60 floor range in that block that held that westbound loop on-ramp at the pre-rebuild Marquette interchange (Clybourn/Michigan/James Lovell(7th)/8th), now surplus WisDOT property. Second-to-none visibility and access - you're staring right at it as you cross the I-43/94 'Highrise' Bridge northbound and several new off-ramps feed right into that area. That has got to be the most valuable single piece of surplus public land anywhere in the State of Wisconsin.

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Old August 19th, 2008, 05:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cincinnatus View Post
Man, the thread title was a huge teaser for me.


me too. I expected some shiney new tower glistening off of Lake Michigan!
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Old August 19th, 2008, 11:04 PM   #13
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Tall buildings are so 80s man.

Seriously though, if you really look at the facts on the ground in Milwaukee they seem to be building at a sustainable rate -- but not overdoing it. In order to have a 50 story building, you'd need a tenant. First things first, who would that be?

Just curious though, do you drive a Hummer?
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Old August 19th, 2008, 11:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeuBrew View Post
Tall buildings are so 80s man.

Seriously though, if you really look at the facts on the ground in Milwaukee they seem to be building at a sustainable rate -- but not overdoing it. In order to have a 50 story building, you'd need a tenant. First things first, who would that be?

Just curious though, do you drive a Hummer?
I agree that a major tenant, or two, is needed before any thoughts of a large office component can be considered -- ie. Lake Pointe Tower. I disagree with you, however, that tall buildings are "so 80's man." Are you suggesting that tall buildings are not being built anymore? I believe the facts support that there is most definitely interest in tall buildings these days.

Why is it germane to this thread as to the type of car I drive?
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Old August 20th, 2008, 06:58 AM   #15
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I'd be the first to say new skyscrapers don't equate to a vibrant city (Charlotte is a great example of this!)... But come on guys I think skyking just wanted to have some fun with this thread.

I'd like something like 40-story building on that jefferson/mason corner... but the first floor retail component has to work and I'd actually like to see it apartments at the lower levels and office higher-up.
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Old August 20th, 2008, 08:51 AM   #16
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If you think 1 is good, then 2 will do wonders:



With apologies to CGII
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Old August 20th, 2008, 05:07 PM   #17
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isn't the second building "the ugliest building in the world" even if it's not, i think it is...
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Old August 20th, 2008, 05:49 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by looksee View Post
If you think 1 is good, then 2 will do wonders:



With apologies to CGII
Now this is what I'm talking about! It's nice to see imaginations running wild, and actually plugging in buildings to see how they'd shape the current skyline. Thanks...although, that pyramid building IS a scary-looking number. (Is that the one in Moscow?) Anyway, I appreciate your participation -- nice panoramic shot of the entire skyline, by the way!!

And, Twoaday, yes, I'd rather have a vibrant city with density than a bunch of glass towers without character and street-level activity. Speaking of which, I was Downtown last evening and made it a point to drive past the new "Bronz Fonz" sculpture at the Milwaukee River and Wells. It was around 7PM, and I was very pleased to see the amount of street life going on for a Tuesday night -- not only around the sculpture, but all over. Very fun to see a vibrant Downtown.

Anybody else have the notion and/or ability to sketch in some building into the existing skyline?
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Old August 20th, 2008, 06:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
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isn't the second building "the ugliest building in the world"...
Yup, that's how Google lists it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyking2 View Post
...although, that pyramid building IS a scary-looking number. (Is that the one in Moscow?)
It's in friendly downtown Pyongyang, North Korea. Construction begun in 1987, and not quite finished yet. I was thinking of adding Joe Stalin's Moscow U., but I think this hotel captured the spirit.
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Old August 20th, 2008, 08:04 PM   #20
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Thats funny i was acutally going to do the same thing with the north korea tower lol such a weird and mishapen building.
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