Milwaukee — Baird Center is the Toast of the Town

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Wisconsin Center District’s Baird Center Expansion is the toast of the town in Milwaukee. Prevue joined in on the city’s excitement this past week during a celebratory ribbon cutting and a stunning gala affair where we hobnobbed with the city’s who’s who and took in a stunning performance by Idina Menzel.

On May 16, Milwaukee was abuzz as the city finally opened the doors to the gorgeous Baird Center Expansion, which spreads across a 2-block radius and features a new grand entrance that looks toward Milwaukee’s Deer District mixed-use development, connecting the convention center to a key entertainment and social corridor in downtown.

The expansion has doubled the convention center size, bringing the space to 1.3 million sf; added 24 new meeting rooms for a total of 52; added six new loading docks for a total of 22; added exhibition space, bringing the size to 300,000 contiguous sf; added 400 indoor parking spaces; added the new rooftop Baird Ballroom adjacent to the Baird Sky View Terrace, with magnificent panoramic views of the city; added a second kitchen; modernized the south building to look cohesive with the north building; included intentional features such as all-gender restrooms; nursing mother’s rooms and sensory rooms. Another highlight—a robust collection of public art done by mostly Wisconsin-based artists.

The ceremonial ribbon cutting at the new Baird Center.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Marty Brooks, President and CEO of the Wisconsin Center District, said, “Features like the collaborative staircase, the water feature, an extensive collection of public art done mostly by Milwaukee- and Wisconsin-based artists, and an abundance of glass and natural light sets the Baird Center apart from other convention centers and exceeds today’s needs and industry trends.”

He added, “The Baird Center expansion is built with inclusivity in mind. Features like sensory rooms, nursing mother’s rooms, and all-gender restrooms ensure our building is welcoming to all.  We are contributing to a greener community by utilizing a solar roof, an underground storm water management system, an onsite food digester, low heat bird-friendly glass, and other state-of-the-art sustainability features throughout the new building.”

On the sustainability front, Henderson—which served as Engineer of Record for the groundbreaking project—designed infrastructure that takes advantage of an existing downtown district steam loop to generate hot water and to provide heating. Excess heat produced from this process is designed to be used for the facility’s snow melt system during the frigid Wisconsin winter. By incorporating steam, the expanded Baird Center is 23 percent more energy efficient than the typical new convention center. Henderson also spearheaded other sustainable approaches including a solar roof, low-flow plumbing fixtures and LED lighting. The project is overall designed toward LEED Silver green building standards.

“The Baird Center expansion and modernization will elevate our city to its highest potential and drive economic impact throughout southeastern Wisconsin and create not-to-be-missed experiences for everyone who walks through these doors,” Brooks concluded.

The expanded and modernized Baird Center is expected to attract an additional 100,000 out-of-state visitors annually and is expected to stimulate at least $12.6 billion in total spending in the state over 30 years. And it’s expected to generate at least $150 million in incremental state income.

“Milwaukee is the heart of the state’s tourism economy, and the Baird Center,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, President and CEO, Visit Milwaukee, is a huge part of what makes it beat.”

She noted, too, that the convention center is “a stunning testament to the power of bold leadership, forward-thinking, inclusive design and a people-first culture.”










To check out all the delights from the gala on May 16, skip on over to @prevuemeetings on Instagram.

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