Posts tagged with "Milwaukee":

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A Milwaukee project creates a live atlas of city’s water system

Milwaukee has a complex relationship with water. Along with its location on the shore of Lake Michigan, three major rivers flow through the city. Historically, the city has relied upon these water sources to drive industry, including leather tanning, food processing, and, of course, beer brewing. Since the decline of its heavy industry starting in the mid-20th century, the city has grappled with how to remediate its water system. Now a group of artists have a proposal to help bring the public into the conversation about the city’s water use. Currently all rain water and sewage in the city is filtered through the Jones Island water treatment facility on the lakefront before being returned to the lake. During typical rain events, this system works to keep polluted water out of the lake, but when extreme rainfall hits the city, the system can quickly become overwhelmed, resulting in sewage being discharged directly into the lake, which is also where all of the city’s drinking water is drawn from. WaterMarks is an initiative to help educate and engage with the public surrounding water issues. Launched by City as Living Laboratory: Sustainability Made Tangible through the Arts (CALL), the program hopes to install physical markers throughout the city to inform the public about major water events and educate them on the water systems that are often right under their feet. WaterMarks intends to “create a city scaled 3-D diagram of the multi-faceted manifestations of water” in the form of large-scale lettered markers, like dropped map pins throughout the city. Each marker would correspond with a different water system. Residents will also be able to access a WaterMarks app, which will supplement the markers and give information about additional public programming associated with the project. The first phase of the project proposes to engage with the Jones Island smoke stack, which sits in a highly visible space in Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor. WaterMarks’ plan is to illuminate the stack in order to signify the state of the water system. Blue will indicate the system is functioning at normal levels, while red will be shown ahead of impending heavy rains to encourage residents to think about their water usage and prepare. WaterMarks has been developed over the last three years with the support of Marquette University and a recent grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services. That grant will go towards initial prototyping and developing programming for the project with the help of Haggerty Museum at Marquette. The projected budget of $3.6 million was arrived at through conversations with the public as well as the Development Department, Department of Public Works and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewer Department, who helped identify the city’s needs. WaterMarks: An Atlas of Water for the City of Milwaukee from City as Living Laboratory on Vimeo.  
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Pabst Brewing Company opens a new microbrewery on its old Milwaukee campus

A little bit of Milwaukee died when the Pabst Brewery closed in 1996. It would be over a decade before anything started to fill in its sprawling campus. Over 20 years have passed and one of the brewery’s most iconic buildings is finally seeing new life… Or is that old life? Pabst Brewing Company has returned to the Brew City in the form of a microbrewery, restaurant, and beer garden. The rehabbed 144-year-old First German Methodist Church will produce upward of 4,000 barrels of beer a year, and seat about 140 people in a dining room, mezzanine, and bar. While Pabst Blue Ribbon will be on tap, the microbrewery will also brew rare German and Belgian beers. Knowing its audience, the new brewery opened April 14, also known locally as Milwaukee Day (414 is Milwaukee’s area code).

Pabst Brewery 1037 West Juneau Avenue Milwaukee Tel: 414-630-1609 Design Architect: Dub Studios Architect of Record: Engberg Anderson
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Milwaukee’s Kahler Slater adds another glass tower to the city’s changing skyline

Downtown Milwaukee is going through what could only be called a renaissance. Along with the proposed revitalization of the multi-block Grand Avenue Mall, a slew of towers from the shore of Lake Michigan to the west end of the downtown are changing the skyline of Milwaukee. It has been decades since Milwaukee has seen such a building boom. With construction starting later this year, the 25-story BMO Harris Financial Center will be one of the next to join what will be a transformed downtown.

Designed by Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater, the new tower will sit immediately next to the current BMO Harris Building, home to the Chicago-based bank’s main Milwaukee office. Once complete, the bank will move to the new office tower and open a new branch in the building. The Irgens development firm, which is overseeing the new tower, will also lead the redevelopment of the older building. The current BMO Harris Building, a 20-story modernist block, was built in 1967.

Currently, BMO Harris’s own five-story parking structure sits on the site. Just across from the site is the Flemish Renaissance revival–style City Hall, a National Historic Landmark and one of the most iconic structures in the city. This site is also in the heart of the city’s historic financial district. While much of the latest development has shifted to the south and east, closer to the lake, the area has continued to see more and more traffic, as theater and entertainment spaces have come to the area.

“The project is on one of the most desirable parcels in town, just kitty corner from the City Hall,” said Glenn Roby, vice president at Kahler Slater and the principal in charge of the project, said. “What an opportunity to replace such an unfortunate use of the corner as a parking deck. So, we were really excited from the start.”

The new tower’s massing will make reference to its modernist neighbor, while also implying slenderness through its split form. The base of the tower will be a 10-story podium of parking and public-facing amenities. Retail and the bank’s retail branch will make up the ground level. The facade will also add to its vertical reading by stretching down over the podium and up past the roofline.      

This is not the first project that Kahler Slater and Irgens have completed together in recent history. Notably, the two worked on the newly completed 833 East tower, which sits on the lake side of the downtown. “The relationship with Irgens is fantastic. It has really evolved over the years,” explained Roby. “They do this often. They are very sophisticated. They know what they want. We understand what they value, and that helps shape what we deliver.”

Besides the few surviving late 19th-century structures, Milwaukee’s downtown is a milieu of parking structures and second-string postmodern towers. When the BMO Harris Financial Center is complete in 2019, glassy towers—a typology that is only now making its way to the city—will dominate the skyline. Add in the new bikeshare program and forthcoming streetcar, and Milwaukee’s downtown will be unrecognizable.

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This year’s University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Urban Edge Award will focus on post-industrial urban sites

As part of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning’s biennial Urban Edge Award, students are engaging with visiting designers, architects, and artists through a series of design workshops. Working with the students over the semester in three charrettes will be artist and designer Olalekan Jeyifous, Catie Newell of Alibi Studio, Fionn Bryan of the Harvard GSD, Joyce Hwang of Ants of the Prairie, Sergio Lopez-Pineiro of the Harvard GSD, and Aleksandr Mergold of Austin + Mergold. The award program will culminate in a public symposium with a keynote address by Walter Hood of Hood Design. Of the 15 projects produced by students with the workshop leaders, one exemplary work will be chosen and highlighted by Hood at the conclusion of the public symposium. In years past, the Urban Edge Award has been given to a single individual. The award was founded to recognize excellence in urban design through creating positive change in the public realm. By inviting six design professionals, the award could allow for a semester-long investigation into three sites across the City of Milwaukee. The theme of this year’s Urban Edge Award is "FROM WASTE TO WONDER: Working with What Remains." The main focus of the program will be three research and design workshops lead by two guest leaders each. The first workshop will be led by Jeyifous and Newell and will focus urban vacancy in the four-mile-long 30th Street Industrial Corridor. The 880-acre industrial landscape suffered like many Midwest industrial centers and now has over 100 acres of vacant land. The second workshop will be led by Fionn Byrne and Joyce Hwange and will focus on adaptive reuse along the Kinnickinnic River Corridor on the south side of the city. The third will tackle the idea of productive landscapes area around the confluence of the Milwaukee and Menomonee River in the once thriving industrial Menomonee River Valley. Each of the sites throughout the city is typical of the post-industrial struggles Milwaukee has been dealing with for the past 40 years. The public symposium will take place on Saturday, April 15th, at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Along with the keynote address by Walter Hood, students and workshop leaders will present their work.
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In new Milwaukee initiative, only developers able to buy city-owned foreclosed properties

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

Milwaukee residents were sorely disappointed at a packed City Hall meeting when they were told they could not partake in a program to buy city-owned foreclosed properties for $1. The Milwaukee Employment/Renovation Initiative (MERI) was set up to entice developers to buy and renovate vacant properties in the Sherman Park neighborhood, emphasis on developers. The initiative is only open to developers, which submitted to an RFQ in early January. Critics of the initiative say that they don’t believe developers buying large portions of the neighborhood will address pressing community issues.

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studio:indigenous wants to design architecture rooted in Native American worldviews

Chris Cornelius, founder of Milwaukee-based studio:indigenous, knew what he wanted to do when he started graduate school at the University of Virginia. His goal was no less than to develop an architecture that is based in the timeless worldviews of Native Americans. For the past decade, that goal has been unwavering, and has led to award-winning built and unbuilt work.

Cornelius is a member of the Oneida Nation, and the stories and traditions of native peoples are a key part of his identity. Every project by studio:indigenous starts with an intensive investigation of the narratives surrounding the client’s needs. Often working for Wisconsin tribes, Cornelius’s designs depart from the all-too-common iconographic motifs built on many reservations. (There is more than one turtle-shaped building in the Oneida Nation.) Rather, the work is consciously produced outside of a specific style and without direct reference to native architecture or symbolism. Instead of relying on historical sweat lodge structures for the sweat lodge-changing room at the Indian Community School of Milwaukee, Cornelius repurposed the stones that are used in the ceremonies held in the steamy sacred spaces as a base for the design. In the Oneida Veterans Memorial, on the Wisconsin Oneida Reservation, the long history of the Oneida’s service to the United States is manifest in the scaled timeline stretching though three acres of prairie grass.

“I realized at some point along this journey that I am not going to tie into anything stylistically,” said Cornelius. “I had to be able to trust myself. Most important to me, first and foremost, was to be a good architect. The Native American thing is not going to change; it’s who I am. So I have allowed my voice to express itself. That has turned into an aesthetic that is latent to the process.”

Cornelius works through complex drawings and models, producing images and forms that embody the narratives of his projects. The drawings, which have been recognized with multiple architectural and artistic awards, are intricately layered with colors, lines, and shapes. While times were slow during the recession, this drawing technique became an outlet for his continued research into articulating native narratives into formal operations. A series of drawings, entitled Radio Free Alcatraz, is a study of the Native American Occupation of Alcatraz Island in the late 1960s. A self-initiated project, Radio Free Alcatraz imagines that Native Americans never left Alcatraz and were planning to build a university on the island. Other similar projects formalize small pavilions based on the Oneida calendar.

Yet it is not only Native clients that have found value in studio:indigenous’s design approach. The focus on culture resonates with many groups that have strong cultural identities. studio:indigenous has worked with communities throughout Milwaukee, and found that the techniques translate across cultures and traditions. In every case, though, Cornelius sees the work not only as an embodiment of stories and traditions of the past, but also as the development of a contemporary story.

“The architecture is part of the current story,” Cornelius said. “What is it that we want to make or achieve? The stories haven’t necessarily changed, but the characters have.”

Indian Community School Milwaukee, WI

The true genesis of studio:indigenous came about through a collaboration with Antoine Predock for the Indian Community School, just outside of Milwaukee. Completed in 2007, the goal was to help ensure that the architecture was an accurate translation of the cultural values of the 11 Native Nations represented in the student body. The pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade, 150,000-square-foot school also serves as a community center for the Native American population of the Milwaukee area.

Radio Free Alcatraz San Francisco, CA

A speculative look at the occupation of Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, Radio Free Alcatrazimagines a new Native American University, part of the occupiers’ original plan. Through complexly layered drawings, sketches, and multimedia, the speculations are put on paper to be reflected upon. Historical, contemporary, and speculative forms and information are blended together in each drawing to produce a new understanding of the island and its possibilities.

Sweat Lodge Changing Room Milwaukee, WI

Known as the “Grandfather Stone,” the Sweat Lodge Changing Room for the Indian Community School of Milwaukee takes the form of a stone used in sweat lodge rituals. The gray form is meant to appear as if it had emerged from the earth and has always been in its location.

Oneida Maple Sugar Camp Oneida, WI

“tsi? watsikhe? tu-nihe,” or “The Place Where They Make Maple Sugar,” is an 800-square-foot project designed for the Oneida Tribal School in Oneida, Wisconsin. Along with providing the infrastructure to boil maple sap down to syrup, the building is an observational device. The ventilation cone provides a view of the “seven dancers”—the Pleiades—when the constellation is directly overhead during the Midwinter Ceremony.

Moon Domicile Conceptual

The Moon Domicile series is based on the moon calendar of the Oneida Nation. Each moon cycle throughout the year is associated with a specific ceremony or ritual. Each of the domiciles is formalized through these traditions, as well as the natural weather phenomena of each time of year. The narrative surrounding the Moon Domicile is ambiguous about whether each of the small projects would be created by human, animal, or other.

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Five proposals highlight potential for a new park in Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor

Five teams are vying for a chance to design a small park in Milwaukee’s evolving Inner Harbor. The small two-lot site is just a small portion of the nearly 1,000 acres of waterfront which the city hopes to eventually transform. The Take Me to the River competition, initiated by the non-profit Harbor District, Inc., is the latest push to raise public interest in the mostly post-industrial landscape. Milwaukee’s harbor is still a working harbor but much of it is unused. Vast tracts of the land surrounding the harbor are either filled with abandoned industrial buildings or are contaminated brownfields. In recent years, some these structures have begun to be dismantled and the land remediated. One of the most significant additions to the area is the University of Wisconsin School of Freshwater Sciences, a leading research facility in the Great Lakes. Recently teams of architects—including Chicago-based Studio Gang, Toronto-based DTAH, Vancouver-based PWL, and Denver-based Wenk—weighed in on the harbor as part of a Harbor District-led design charrette. Though that charrette was not intended to produce buildable proposals, this latest competition does hope to create new public space for the area. The small site for the Take Me to the River competition is situated at the intersection of Greenfield Avenue and the Kinnickinnic River. Each of the five teams participating provided proposals that range from an extensive reshaping of the shoreline to interactive designs. The participating teams and their projects include:
  • SmithGroupJJR and TKWA UrbanLab – Welcome to the River
  • MKExTEN (Vetter Denk Architects, Ten X Ten, and Design Fugitives) – Urban Flashlights
  • La Dallman Architects and Alfred Benesch Engineering – Waterlily Landing
  • Quorum Architects and Ayres Associates – Slosh Park
  • UWM Inner Harbor Team (UWM, City as a Living Laboratory, Creative Lighting Design, SEH) – Access/Engagement/Education
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Studio Gang’s research-based approach to ecological design rethinks the shape of urban waterfronts

As Studio Gang gains respect as an office that builds formally and programmatically ambitious projects, one aspect in particular has helped the firm continue to be a major force: It is an office that does its homework. Every project that the studio does is accompanied by a body of research as well as collaborations with experts often outside of architecture. “As architects, we think of our role as being that of the translator,” explained Claire Cahan, design director at Studio Gang. “Early on in the project we bring in experts from interdisciplinary fields to discuss the past, present, and future conditions of a site. Our job is to ask questions and translate ideas between disciplines.” This becomes particularly visible in projects that involve water ecologies.

After a yearlong study in collaboration with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), the studio released Reverse Effect (2011). The book explored urban and ecological implications of severing the link between the Chicago River and the Mississippi River, effectively reversing the flow of the Chicago River to its original direction (something that has actually happened three times). The book presented a new Chicago that embraced a reshaped river as part of its cultural and civic space.

“We’re interested in the intersection between built and natural environments,” said Cahan about the office’s broader vision and approach. “While building projects typically have distinct property lines and boundaries, natural systems often intersect with property lines in a fluid way. Through research, which includes conversation, mapping, and analysis, we seek to understand the natural, cultural, economic conditions far beyond a property line.”

A similar study, in collaboration with Milwaukee-based Applied Ecological Services and Edgewater Resources, looked at the 1,000-acre Milwaukee harbor. The Edge Effect master plan set out to establish a framework and logic for Milwaukee’s waterfront development. The master plan envisions relocating the current active inner harbor to a new outer harbor, while bringing the city to the water’s edge. The process would include softening the coastline to achieve a more complete and sustainable ecosystem by learning from stable natural coastlines and reefs. This concept is already being deployed in the Studio Gang–designed improvements to Chicago’s Northerly Island, which has a similar geographic situation.

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Gensler designs a new vision for the unloved Milwaukee Post Office

The long, low-slung Milwaukee Post Office is not a popular building. The rust-covered Brutalist structure sits along a five-block stretch of the Menominee Riverfront, a place that, until recently, was generally seen as the undesirable backside of the city. But that is all quickly changing. Just east of the post office, the Third Ward neighborhood has been completely transformed in the last ten years. The Menominee River Valley to the west is also seeing new life after over 100 years of being the city’s industrial heart. Now, Chicago-based developers R2, in collaboration with Gensler, are betting on a brighter future for the much-maligned post office.

When R2 bought the building and the surrounding land for $13 million in 2015, it knew it was going to be a long-term project. The United States Postal Service has a lease for its space through 2020, with the option to sign for up to 30 years. Even if the Postal Service were to vacate, the site would always have active train lines running under the building, between its massive concrete piloti. But that is not stopping R2 from planning ahead.

R2 and Gensler recently released new renderings and an outline of their plans for the site. Gensler’s designs call for a major mixed-use development that incorporates office space, residential, and entertainment, as well as small and big-box retail. The site benefits from extensive access to transportation, including ramps from the adjacent elevated freeway, the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, the city’s main Amtrak and Greyhound station, and the now under-construction city streetcar.

“The concerns that are on the site, that in the past have be seen as barriers to development, are now seen as potential drivers for the project,” explained Benjy Ward, Gensler principal and regional design leader. “The market has flipped. The elevated highway that runs by the site and the river have become assets.”

Along with renovating the current building, the project could include two large towers at each end of the site. The east tower would have 282,000 square feet of residential space, while the west tower (along with space in the existing building) would account for nearly one million square feet of office space. The 1,500 feet of riverfront would also be developed as a public promenade and an extension of the city’s growing Riverwalk. Restaurants will line the promenade, and kayak launches and boat docks will connect the project with river traffic. A foot bridge is proposed to connect the existing building to the James Biber–designed Harley Davidson Museum across the river.

Though the Postal Service will remain a tenant in the building for at least the next few years, Gensler’s plans are such that, if given the go-ahead, the project could begin. By working in the currently open land around the building, much of the proposal could be realized without disrupting normal operations.

If realized, the post office project will be one of many changing the face of downtown Milwaukee. Of those projects rising just north of the site, few are as ambitious in scale or program. Yet with at least three years to go before the site could be completely free of its current tenant, the city is going to have to wait a bit for delivery.

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Motorcyle manufacturer Royal Enfield opens first U.S. store in Milwaukee

Milwaukee may be known for its Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, but there is a new ride in town. Royal Enfield, a division of India-based Eicher Motors Ltd., has just opened its first company-owned U.S. dealership and North American headquarters in Milwaukee’s Third Ward district. The new space is meant to be part of a greater push to move the 115-year-old motorcycle company into the U.S. market. Local management worked with Milwaukee-based Ener-Con developers, who own the building, to lay out the space for both sales and office.

The new store and headquarters in located on the first floor of the historic four-story Mitchell Leather building. The building is distinctly Milwaukee and is constructed out of the light-colored Cream City bricks that were once manufactured in the city. These bricks are featured in the showroom by way of exposed walls and a simple material palette for the space. A polished concrete floor gives the feel of a clean garage filled with the classically designed Royal Enfield motorcycles. Motorcycle parts are both for sale and used to adorn the space, including a striking chandelier made out of Royal Enfield headlights.

Royal Enfield North America 226 North Water Street Milwaukee, WI Tel: 414-502-1204 Architect: Ener-Con

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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s water-inspired facade

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The School of Freshwater Sciences is the first of its kind in the country, supporting a regional initiative to establish Milwaukee as a global hub for water-related research and technology. Located in the city's Harbor District, the project is an anchor for the re-utilization of industrial brownfield sites. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Milwaukee-based architecture firm Continuum, the project is a long, linear addition to an existing building that was once used as a ceramics factory. The facility accommodates a dock for research vessels that have direct access to Lake Michigan. Natalie Gentile, ‎associate principal at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, said the design concept was about discovering a facade solution inspired by the visual qualities of water. She said flying into Milwaukee over Lake Michigan gives a unique vantage point of the water, and provided a departure point for the school's facade concept: “We loved the way the water responds to different daylight conditions, and we were hoping to capture some of that in the building elevation." The building integrates custom TAKTL panels with a Kawneer curtain wall into a thoughtful composition of horizontal and vertical regulating lines. The majority of the exterior shell is flat, but the project team was able to produce depth and curvilinearity through subtle two-dimensionally profiled shapes. Curves were rarely—but impactfully—incorporated into the facade. Custom-profiled louvers cast undulating shadow lines over the building, while a parapet wall camouflages the reading of the facade as a flat surface.
  • Facade Manufacturer TAKTL (UHPC); Kawneer (curtain wall); Goldray Industries (glazing)
  • Architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (Design Architect); Continuum Architects + Planners, S.C. (Architect of Record)
  • Facade Installer JP Cullen
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Milwaukee, WI
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System rainscreen, curtain wall
  • Products TAKTL panels in Kalahari finish; Centria panels; Kawneer 451T curtain wall
The primary section of the facade is flanked by a set of gently curved bays and an elliptical stairwell inspired by boat hull geometry. The curtain wall incorporates extended mullion cap extrusions of varying length, evoking verticality of dripping rain, and cantilevered panels that give the facade a sense of movement akin to the flow of water. The curtain wall system picks up the geometry established by ribbon windows on the central portion of the facade. The compositional logic of the resulting grid is a response to a state of Wisconsin requirement that limits view glass percentage on facades dependent on solar orientation—in this case, the south-facing building was allowed to be composed of 30 percent openings along its primary facade. A set of ribbon windows set to this target established a grid with spandrel glass and rainscreen panels infilling opaque areas. The project team conducted numerous color studies looking at how to add dimension to the flat facade. The team arrived at a solution that incorporated five colors into a specific patterning that utilizes a proportioning system of one-thirds of a standard panel size to limit material waste. Gentile said the panels played a significant role in producing the water-inspired visual effects she sought: "I'm really pleased with how the TAKTL panels are performing in terms of meeting our architectural goals for replicating the way water reflects light under different lighting conditions.” She said photography taken in the morning versus the evening shows how the building—clad in blue panels—can range anywhere from golden to violet hues. “We were very concerned about the sheen of the panels. We knew this modest sheen was important to getting us that changing coloration and reflectivity." Bob Barr, principal of Continuum, said the project successfully worked with the state's regulations on view glass percentage to producing an impactful facade: “To have something very visible after the limitation of the glazing is why we played so much with the patterning of the spandrel glass."
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Future still uncertain for Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes

Milwaukee’s iconic Mitchell Park Domes may be in more danger from the unstable political ground they sit on than their direly needed repairs. As previously reported by The Architect's Newspaper, the three conoidal glass conservatory domes closed in February due to safety concerns surrounding their deteriorating concrete. Since then, the Show Dome, filled with decorative plants, has been reopened, while the Desert and Tropical Domes have remained closed. The battle for what to do with the domes has been among the Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, the Milwaukee County Board, and the public. In March, Abele—who's purportedly in favor of demolition—convened a committee to discuss the future of the domes. Since that committee was convened without public notice, some are calling foul under the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law. At the same time, the Milwaukee County Board has assembled a task force to pursue a repair and preservation plan. Abele has recently expressed that he will work with the County Board team but will also continue to work with his own committee on plans for the domes. Both Abele’s and the County’s task force include business, non-profit, and community members. Currently, crews are working to wrap interior concrete members in an attempt to slow degradation. The Tropical and Desert Domes are expected to reopen in late September and late October, respectively. Built between 1959 and 1967, the domes are not geodesic as many initially think. Designed by local architect Donald Grieb, the domes are conical in shape and built out of precast concrete rather than steel. A triangulated aluminum glass skin sits just above the concrete skeleton of the building. Over time, water from without and within has damaged the concrete, leading to the domes’ current predicament.