Architect: Stephen Perry Smith Architects, Inc.
Contractor: Hunzinger Construction Company
Milwaukee Electric Tool Company expanded its current campus in Brookfield, Wisconsin and their new four‐story building adjoining to the existing facility is a direct response to Milwaukee Tool’s growth.
To maximize the increased parking requirements for the first phase of the METCO Campus expansion and given the zoning height limitations of 65’, a compact 4 story footprint was needed to incorporate the initial 202,000 SF expansion contiguous to their existing facility. METCO requested that the design of their facility “express the nature of construction” and in doing so, reflect the various applications for their power tools. The landscape design is very simple and understated with elements of construction weaved through‐out with exposed rebar, large boulders, rough concrete benches and stone beds with straight steel edging. To reduce the visual bulk of the building, a new skin was tailored that weaves the horizontal acid etched precast concrete spandrels with ribbon windows that are carried by exposed structural steel columns above a continuous full height recessed glass base with a vertical expression of full height glazing at the recessed corners and multiple entrance conditions. The vertical nature of the glazing is reinforced by deep vertical mullion fins that slide past and above the horizontal architectural metal composite panel canopy which caps the building and creates a unifying rhythm to the facade. These vertical fin elements were inspired by the famous Milwaukee Tool “Sawzall” cutting blades and have tapered ends that extend beyond the building edge. Additional layering is created with wider mullions at the ribbon windows and deeper horizontal banding at the full height curtain walls help to reinforce the grid pattern.
The vertical expression of these corner and entrance elements is illuminated with red LED lights that create a striking, impactful nighttime image that serves to reinforce the Milwaukee Tool brand. Each elevation of the expansion features a strong entrance condition of structural framing with coped ends and a frosted glass canopy that is also up lit with red LED lights.
In order to maximize the amount of natural light into the building, the floor‐to‐floor height was maximized of both the public ground floor space with perimeter training rooms and upper floor open office space with perimeter offices that are enclosed with full height glass while also providing visual transparency into the building. To provide for more natural light and visual connectivity between first and second floor, the building features a two story entrance lobby with a grand stair at the north entrance and with the atrium connector space, two bridges link the new building with the existing building with a large skylight between them. This emphasis on natural light and connectivity is continued on the third floor where two large, two‐story atriums, allow skylights to fill the third and fourth floor with natural light. All bridges and opening are a framed with exposed structural steel with wire mesh and exposed bolts to reinforce the nature of construction. In the two story entrance lobby and connector atrium, a series of suspended light sculptures expresses the materials used in construction with internally lit cylinders of each material diagonally juxtaposed to each other. The structure is exposed throughout the building including polished concrete floors, concrete block stair and elevator core walls, corrugated metal deck along with the structural steel columns and diagonal “X” and “K” bracing.
The public restrooms, in keeping with the concept of expressing the nature of construction, feature industrial strength stalls framed in structural steel columns with natural wood finish panel infill. The elevator cabs further reinforce the nature of construction by each speaking to a particular construction trade in their finish with a copper, wood, steel and concrete theme interior. The elevator hoist way is exposed at the ground level with fire rated glass and up lit with red LED lights to truly experience and see what is normally concealed from view. Similarly, the mechanical rooms are partially opened up with glass walls to allow views into them and for customers to experience the behind the scenes aspects of buildings.
The mechanical systems are not only exposed but highlighted as an integral part of the design in the orderly manner of all runs and distribution lines being highlighted through the use of a black painted structure.
Photos: Edgar Visuals