Northwestern Mutual opens tower and commons
Headquarters includes public green space, walkways

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

August 22, 2017

The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons opened Monday. It is one of the first significant 21st Century building projects for Milwaukee and has reshaped the city’s skyline.
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MILWAUKEE — What started as an abstract building of steel rising upward from the downtown Milwaukee skyline eventually became the towering 32-story Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons, which opened to employees on Monday.

After nearly three years of construction, the glass office building has 1.1 million square feet of office space designed for innovation and collaboration. It was designed by Pickard Chilton and led by principal Jon Pickard FAIA, RIBA.

“With its sleek glass exterior and innovative work environment, our Tower and Commons building represents our transformation — from being the best life insurance company to being the best financial security company,” said John E. Schlifske, chairman and CEO of Northwestern Mutual, in a statement. “Our new building will help us meet the multiple financial needs of clients for decades to come.”

Construction on the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons began in fall 2014. Once all employees move into the building from the company’s other locations in downtown Milwaukee and in Franklin, there will be 2,400 people working there.

“Our new building demonstrates our confidence in the future of Northwestern Mutual,” Schlifske said. “Everything about it is designed to help employees collaborate and innovate to deliver greater value to our clients. We also look forward to attracting and retaining the talent we need to grow.”

The Fitness Center is available to all Northwestern Mutual employees and includes more than 40 pieces of new cardio equipment, strength training equipment, weights, two group fitness rooms, a spin studio and locker rooms.
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The Northwestern Mutual Gardens includes three acres of landscaped green space, walkways and seating on the south side of The Tower and Commons and is open to the public.
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In recent years, Northwestern Mutual has reported record growth and continues to update its business model so it meets it changing clients’ needs, according to the announcement. The company is also focused on helping its hometown of Milwaukee.

During the construction process, more than 2,600 individuals worked on the building, including about 1,200 city residents who were previously unemployed or underemployed. Northwestern Mutual also strove to hire local small business enterprises, which included minority-owned, women-owned and military-veteran-owned businesses for the work.

The top of the tower on the 32nd floor is open to all employees and offers outstanding views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan.
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Northwestern Mutual also sought to beautify the city by incorporating the Northwestern Mutual Gardens into the project, which offer nearly three acres of landscaped green space, walkways and seating areas — and they are open to the public. The building’s first floor Commons hosts a Starbucks, where the public can purchase beverages and food.

To learn more about Northwestern Mutual visit