Downtown Milwaukee is seeing an unprecedented surge of commercial development, and Kahler Slater continues to be at the forefront of development downtown. The latest proof of this is BMO Harris’ announcement of a new 25 story office building to serve as their future Milwaukee home. Kahler Slater worked closely with City officials as BMO Harris Financial Center at Market Square will be located immediately across the street from City Hall.
Rising from the footprint of a former parking structure, the BMO Financial Center is designed as a contemporary work of architecture that reinforces Milwaukee’s historic financial center. The all glass tower has a two-part massing to relate it to its context and emphasize its verticality. The southern mass has a strong vertical façade articulation while the taller northern mass features a taut glass skin. The northern mass is sculpted to create a distinctive profile on the skyline and, with an angled façade, responds to the natural bend in Water Street. In addition, the tower has a tightly radiused corner to reflect and preserve vistas of Milwaukee’s iconic City Hall. The facade steps back and becomes more transparent at the first-floor spaces to highlight a signature retail space under the curved corner and dramatic building lobby on Water Street.
The tower massing is evident on the Water Street façade, but on the remainder of the block, an enclosed parking structure podium is extruded out of the tower which relates to the smaller scaled buildings along Broadway. The podium roof levels provide multiple opportunities for tenant terraces, andis clad with metal panels and sections of translucent glazing to mask the cars inside. The development supports the pedestrian and streetcar experience with ground floor retail spaces and high-quality details at the street level. The building will reinvigorate the neighborhood with new streetscaping and an articulated civic plaza in front of the building, across from City Hall.