Architect: Eppstein Uhen Architects, Inc.
Owner: Zilber Limited
Contractor: KM Development Corporation
ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. Their new 95,000 square-foot, three-story building is the US headquarters for the Drives and Controls business, housing nearly 350 employees in corporate, financial, marketing, sales and technical support functions. The facility epitomizes their clean brand while showcasing their commitment to sustainability.
From the onset of the project, ABB, Inc. had set a standard of design that was required by the building owner, Zilber Property Group (ZPG). ABB challenged the design team to create a building that took advantage of the visibility from the Interstate and communicated a signature presence in the Milwaukee market. As a building that would not be occupied by the owner, the design team faced the critical challenge of tailoring a speculative building to ABB’s needs while ensuring the flexibility and progressive nature of the space for future tenants. As a speculative building in which economies drove the envelope, the design team was challenged to create a building form that was simple, economical and articulated the tenant’s brand and company. The simple, precise building form was a key driver to support the overall flexibility of the interior – including several informal, collaborative meeting areas and private enclaves for focus work to give employees variation in how and where they work depending on daily tasks. A crucial measurement of success for ABB was the requirement that the office needed to earn LEEDâ Gold certification.
For this project, ABB strategically repositioned their mindset; creating a new, open and creative culture to reflect one of their core values “Innovation is ingrained in the DNA of ABB.” From the building framework and simple envelope to the minimalist interior details, it was critical that ABB’s new office represented their culture and new brand. Ultimately chosen for optimal visibility and adjacency to Highway 45 in Milwaukee, building forms were designed in relation to the sun to maximize opportunities for daylight and views. To reinforce ABB’s refined European brand, selected building materials included white aluminum cladding and black manganese iron-spot brick to create building motion from the Interstate. The contrast of the black and white creates a noticeable backdrop and prominent canvas for ABB’s bold red signage – a subtle design aesthetic that becomes recognizable and provides the building with great depth.
Clean lines, bold graphics and a branded palette frame the office space, transitioning seamlessly from the exterior to interior finishes for a cohesive building aesthetic and clear wayfinding throughout the building. The elimination of office hierarchy led to the development of adaptable and collaborative employee work areas for current and future needs to best attract and retain employee talent. Inspired by ABB’s secondary brand colors, the design team created a palette of oranges, blues and greens to define each of the three floors and contribute to the bright Spartan aesthetic desired by client.
Photos: C+N Photography and Tricia Shay