To preserve and protect
When some terra cotta pieces began falling off historic Milwaukee City Hall and onto the sidewalks and streets below, city officials launched a large-scale restoration project to repair the structure’s exterior. Completed in December 2008, the $65.9 million project has strengthened and revived the 115-year-old landmark.
Opened in 1895 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2005, the nine-story building is clad with granite, sandstone, brick and architectural terra cotta, much of which showed signs of deterioration from weather and moisture infiltration. In addition, the 393-foot-tall masonry and steel-framed clock tower at the south end of the building had developed stress cracks in the masonry walls.
The city contracted with locally based Engberg Anderson Design Partnership and Waltham, Mass.-based Simpson Gumpertz & Heger to design and prepare a stabilization and restoration program, and, in 2005, locally based J.P. Cullen & Sons began leading the repairs. The clock tower was rebuilt from the 12th floor to the top, which included replacing structural steel, terra cotta, brick and copper roofing, and waterproofing. The clock face also was restored to its original design of white, translucent backlit glass with black numbers and hands. On the rest of the building, brick and terra cotta elements were replaced/rehabilitated; 1,900 windows were retrofitted with energy-efficient glass; 20 dormers were rebuilt; waterproofing was installed; and the slate and membrane roofing was replaced. The project has received numerous awards since its completion.