Building The Future Together

Hunzinger Crews Making Great Progress on the Milwaukee Art Museum “Plan for the Future Campaign” Atrium Addition and Renovation Project

Last September, Hunzinger began work as the self-performing construction manager for the $30 million, 17,000 square foot addition and 113,000 square foot renovation of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Our work began in fall with utility relocation which is usually a pretty routine exercise, except when your project is just 20 feet from Lake Michigan. The utilities for the Art Museum were actually below the lake level, so our challenge was to set up an extensive de-watering system where we brought in 3 large temporary storage vessels so particulates in the water could settle and it could be pumped to MMSD’s sewage system.

Milwaukee Art Museum

By mid-November, our team was ready to begin drilling deep foundation caissons. The foundation included 26 caissons placed 80 feet deep establishing the 8,000 square foot footprint of the addition. The remainder of the winter months were busy with construction of grade beams and footings. Hunzinger ran a concrete crew of 15 working outside through the winter months, enduring the heavy winds off the lake while inside, the 113,000 square foot interior renovation was moving along.

Meanwhile, our “luckier” crews were working within the Kahler section of the museum. To make the renovation possible, the Art Museum workers packed up all the art within the Kahler section and moved it into the Saarinen section. Hunzinger crews stripped the Kahler section to its structural shell and are now building “art walls” that will create an entirely new flow and layout including transforming the exposed ceiling to a drywall ceiling. This renovation also includes a new HVAC system. This phase of the project is set to be completed this summer as we have broken our work down into 12 phases so that the museum staff will be able to begin the delicate and meticulous process of moving the art back into that space in June. Moving the art back into the Kahler space will continue through August and the continued interior renovation of the Saarinen space will commence.

We have completed the interior infill of the sculpture court within the Kahler space which gave the museum 5,000 square feet of additional gallery space. In April, we started steel erection on the addition and worked 7 days a week to make up for some bad weather days in the winter.

In the past month, we poured the roof slab, the second level slab, and began enclosing the exterior of the building addition. We are on schedule.

Hunzinger crews working inside and out are completing selective demolition, concrete, masonry and all carpentry work. To date, over 400 workers have been onsite with about 80 workers working at any one time.

“We have a great team of subcontractors on the project and everyone is very aware of the importance and delicate nature of this project. It is a privilege to work on a project that is so important to the area and means so much to so many people,” said Project Superintendent Will Wright.

“When complete, this project is going to change the landscape of the lake walk just to its east. The second level of the addition is cantilevered over the lake walk and that creates a lot of excitement around the building,” Wright continued.

Our team includes Rams Contracting, Terra Engineering, JM Brennan, Lemberg Electric, Cornerstone Plumbing, VerHalen, Inc., Area Erectors, Doral, SRS Roofing, Omni Glass, Prostar Flooring, TA Mason painting, and many others.

HGA architects Milwaukee office is serving as project designers and Steve Chamberlin of The Chamberlin Group is the owner’s representative.