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Northwestern Mutual Plaza Breaks the Mold of Park Design

Tom Bamberger is not shy. The award-winning photographer and architecture critic is known for his acerbic take on the shortcomings of Milwaukee’s architecture and public spaces. But Bamberger has a soft spot for the new Northwestern Mutual Tower and his affinity extends to the plaza in front of the building

The curves of Frederick Law Olmsted’s urban park design have been industry standard for more than a century. A prominent example in Milwaukee is Lake Park, which features curved pathways intended to mimic patterns found in wild paths. The straight lines of the new Northwestern Mutual Plaza break that mold. 

"I think grids and straight lines, all the things Olmsted hated, is our nature. Something about human beings. You know, one of the greatest things we ever did was geometry, was imagine a straight line. There are really no straight lines in nature," says Bamberger.

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