Northwestern Mutual breaks ground on office tower
CEO says new structure represents company’s future

By Dwayne Butler - Freeman Staff

August 27, 2014

The Grand Hall in the future Northwestern Mutual Tower.  
Submitted rendering

MILWAUKEE - Northwestern Mutual officially broke ground Tuesday on its new high-rise office tower in downtown Milwaukee.

Construction of the 32-story, 1.1-million square-foot building in downtown Milwaukee at the corner of Cass and Mason streets is expected to be completed by 2017. The financial services company said it will preserve 1,100 jobs while adding 1,900 new ones.

“The tower and commons will be a physical manifestation of Northwestern Mutual’s incredibly bright future,” Northwestern Mutual CEO John Schlifske said in a Northwestern release. “At the same time, it will demonstrate our belief in Milwaukee, help us engage the community in new and exciting ways, and serve as a catalyst for job creation and economic growth for the entire Milwaukee region.”

The Northwestern Mutual Tower is expected to take its place in the Milwaukee skyline by 2017.   
Submitted rendering

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the company’s investment affirms its commitment to Milwaukee.

“The company sees our city as a place to grow. I am particularly pleased that this project adds jobs to our economy both during construction and into the foreseeable future. It is reason for the entire community to celebrate,” he said.

Representatives from community nonprofit organizations, local educational institutions, business leaders, charitable partners, members of the Milwaukee Common Council and others in the community took part in the ceremony.

The celebration featured a performance by the student musical group Mariachi Infantil from the Latino Arts Strings Program, an in-school and after-school music educational program for students and graduates of Bruce-Guadalupe Community School.

The Commons area of the future Northwestern Mutual Tower.   
Submitted rendering

The students triggered the main event by pulling a lever that launched streamers above the crowd and revealed two excavators rising up from the construction site - a symbolic beginning to the project.

Others there were owners and employees of local and small business enterprises, who have been hired to work on the project. Northwestern Mutual says it has already hired more than 70 Wisconsin-based companies, including more than three dozen SBEs, to perform a variety of duties related to the overall project.

The company says it committed to use small business enterprises for at least 25 percent of the total construction cost and Milwaukee residents for 40 percent of the hours on the construction site.

Milwaukee-based Gilbane Building Co. and C.G. Schmidt Inc. are the general contractors for the project. The project will require more than 1,000 construction-related jobs.