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Architecture Critic Sees 'Exuberance and Joy' in the New Northwestern Mutual Tower

Along with many Lincoln Memorial Drive commuters, architecture critic Tom Bamberger has noticed the near-completion of the Northwestern Mutual Tower. Although apprehensive about previous projects in Milwaukee, Bamberger told Lake Effect's Bonnie North why he thinks this one is a "thoughtful" and "rigorous" stunner. 

"It's really a visual statement," says Bamberger.

In discussing the intentional nature of Milwaukee's newest skyscraper, Bamberger highlights the importance of planning for function and symbolism. 

"I think that this building, and any building really has to exude two things: quality and somehow refresh, somehow surprise, somehow leave an impression of quality to express the values of their institution," he says.

In their new tower, Northwestern Mutual hopes to show Milwaukee those values- advertising the ability tobring nearly 2,000 jobs to the city. The life insurance group recently released a time lapse video of the construction of the building, which any downtown commuter or U.S. Bank employee is probably familiar with already.

The building is located on Prospect Avenue, and Bamberger notes the ability of the building to change as pedestrians and drivers come around the corner to the lakefront.

"I mean I think it's probably 20 or 30 different buildings, depending on where you look," he says. "It's sort of like a plant in that it responds to you know, conditions."  

Bambergerrecently reviewed the towerin Urban Milwaukee, calling it an "architectural triumph." The building is scheduled to be finished this year. 

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.