Building The Future Together

Hunzinger Construction Company is proud to receive a Top Projects of 2015 Award from The Daily Reporter for the Milwaukee Art Museum project.  Our work on the Milwaukee Art Museum East Addition and Gallery Renovation was truly one of our notable projects from the past year.  President John Hunzinger called this $34 million project that included a new 17,000 SF east addition along with a complete 120,000 SF renovation of the older Saarinen and Kahler buildings housing 30,000 works of art in over 125,000 square feet of galleries, “a career project.”

The Daily Reporter honored all awardees at their 16th Annual Top Projects awards dinner held May 19, 2016 at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino where over 750 industry professionals attended. Additionally, profiles of all top projects were featured in a special section of The Daily Reporter.


Museum Redo, Addition is a Piece of Art

By: Jessica Stephen,May 19, 2016

Take a proposed addition, plans for a renovation, two immediately recognizable existing buildings and add water.

What do you get?

“A career project,” said John Hunzinger, president of Brookfield-based Hunzinger Construction.

Otherwise known as the Milwaukee Art Museum east addition and gallery renovation, this $34 million project called for a 17,000-square-foot addition to be put up in the shadow of structures designed by the famous architects Eero Saarinen and Santiago Calatrava. Elsewhere, the work transformed 120,000 square feet of space inside the museum.

“Since the Calatrava addition, this is the most significant thing to happen there on the campus,” Hunzinger said.

“At times, it was quite an impressive undertaking. And it became a very, very complex puzzle. That project has just about everything you can see in a project — from civil engineering and deep foundations right alongside Lake Michigan to erecting structural steel and pouring concrete enclosing the original sculpture court. It was a very complicated job.”

The project, a partnership between Milwaukee County and the art museum, constituted the largest renovation in the museum’s history and involved moving 30,000 works of art to accommodate the construction.

“Having to build a new building that’s right next to the Calatrava and right next to the Saarinen, right next to two treasured buildings and right next to the lakefront, which is Milwaukee’s natural treasure — it’s a contested realm, people saying, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t build anything there at all,’ ”That’s the challenge,” said Jim Shields, vice president of HGA Architects and Engineers and design principal for the art museum addition.

Shields called his addition a “quiet player,” meant to avoid stealing attention away from both the beautiful artwork inside and the natural beauty of the lake outside.

Inside, the renovation eliminated orange-stained gallery floors that were introduced in the 1970s.

“Turns out a lot of paintings don’t look good with an orange floor,” Shields deadpanned.

Refinishing the floors exposed the original blonde Douglas fir. And painting the visible dark ductwork in the ceiling white changed the view from above.

“Suddenly, you have kind of a bright, luminous environment,” Shields said.

But it’s the outside that really shines.

“Just a year or two ago, the museum turned its back on the lakefront. There was no way in, and the permanent collection building was almost blank back there. Really pretty grim,” Shields said. “Now we have an entry plaza with stairs and a ramp. We have an entry from the water, and we also have a café people can use without paying admission to the museum.

“It’s a building people can walk on top of. They can walk down through it. They can walk under it,” he added. “It’s really focused on the urban life of the city, moving through the city and engaging with the city in an intimate way and seeing the art. In terms of an asset to the community, that’s an incredible thing. It’s really enriching the life of the city in an area that was one of the worst parts of our lakefront and, now, is one of the nicest.”


Milwaukee Art Museum Addition and Renovation

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Project size: 17,000 SF addition and 120,000 SF Renovation

Project cost: $34 Million

Start date: April 2014

Completion date: November 2015

Submitting company: HGA Architects & Hunzinger Construction

General contractor: Hunzinger Construction

Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers

Engineer: Ring & DuChateau

Owner: Milwaukee Art Museum