With the spring and summer saber-rattling over, and the battle for $250 million in public funding officially won, it's now time for the Milwaukee Bucks to proceed with plans for the construction of a new arena that will allow them to move out of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, their home since 1988. On Thursday, the Bucks unveiled an "updated set of renderings of the new multi-purpose arena" that will be part of the design plans the team must submit to the city of Milwaukee for final approval before being able to move forward with construction:
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As tends to be the case in these sorts of half-a-billion-or-so-dollar arena projects, the mockups look stunning and futuristic, all beams of light and miles of glass and gigantic lobbies and concourses. But as Frank Madden of the great Bucks blog BrewHoop noted Thursday morning, the renderings also suggest something a bit more down-to-earth that feels perfectly in keeping with Milwaukee's proud heritage of hops, barley, yeast and water:
This new Bucks arena render looks kind of like a beer barrel on its side, to which I say PERFECT pic.twitter.com/Snb0POgPcR
— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) March 17, 2016
For the sake of comparison:
Now, to hear the designers behind the project tell it, the roof's color and shape has nothing to do with beer and everything to do with "the natural beauty of Wisconsin's rivers, lakes and forests." To-may-to, to-mah-to, really. From Mary Louise Schumacher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The shape of the 714,000-square-foot arena's arcing roof has changed subtly from initial plans. The abstract, wavelike form begins near the base of the building on W. Juneau Ave. and arcs dramatically over the glassy entrance.
The roof is the "big move," the statement of the $500 million building, said Clark. It will be clad in long, thin zinc panels chemically treated to achieve a gritty, brown-rust patina. The matte panels can take on a leather-like look and will change appearance in varying types of light, said Gabe Braselton, one of the lead project managers at Populous.
The idea for the wavelike shape surfaced in sketching sessions among Populous architects before the firm had been hired and when the Bucks were still eyeing the Journal Sentinel site, near the Milwaukee River.
"We think there's beauty to the region and water is a big part of that," Clark said, adding that they also wanted to emphasize Milwaukee's industrial grit. "We know that's important to your community."
"We love the new design, and if the Scott Kindness-designed building was an inspiration, more power to them. We are all inspired by our surroundings — the people in our lives, art, architecture and great design. Looks like the Bucks have a real winner on their hands," said Bel Air Cantina.
The 714,000 square foot arena will be the centerpiece of a "nearly 30-acre district" that will also include a new training facility for the Bucks, parking, "a new entertainment block" and space for other commercial and residential properties, according to the team. The new designs and detailed plan are scheduled to go before the City Planning Commission on April 4, according to Schumacher, and the Bucks hope to break ground on the arena this July with the goal of having the building ready for business in time for the 2018-19 NBA season.
Whether the project as a whole will eventually produce the sort of windfall promised by the Bucks and the politicians who voted in support of the quarter-billion in public funding remains to be seen, but if nothing else, it ought to look pretty cool, distinctive and regionally appropriate, which is no small thing. A beer barrel's a much better thing to end up with than a toilet, after all.
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