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Wisconsin Center District and Gilbane | Smith Celebrate Completion of Expanded Baird Center

MILWAUKEE, WI — Wisconsin Center District, Gilbane Building Company | C.D. Smith Construction, and EUA | TVS recently gathered with trade partners and community members to celebrate the ribbon cutting ceremony of the newly expanded Baird Center in downtown Milwaukee.

With an expanded footprint of 1.3 million square feet, the $456 million Baird Center is expected to attract larger and more prestigious events, while also executing multiple, simultaneous, and overlapping events, all helping to contribute to Milwaukee’s economy.

“Gilbane | Smith has been an exceptional partner not only to construct Milwaukee’s newest crown jewel, but to embrace our unprecedented goals in supporting diversity and equity,” said Marty Brooks, Wisconsin Center District President and CEO. “Gilbane | Smith delivered on the build during an unpredictable market — both from an economic and supply chain perspective — and I valued the transparency and proactive approach in their communication on all things project-related during the last nearly three years.”

The expansion project included a comprehensive economic inclusion plan by committing to 25 percent minority-owned businesses, 5 percent women-owned businesses, and 1 percent disabled veteran-owned businesses. Ultimately, Baird Center surpassed its overall business inclusion goals by 11.7 percent.

  • 25.3 percent minority-owned businesses (25 percent goal)
  • 16.5 percent women-owned businesses (5 percent goal)
  • 1 percent disabled veteran-owned businesses (1 percent goal)
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The project also committed to a Residents Preference Program (RPP) of 40 percent, which means that at least $40 million of the $100 million in anticipated construction wages will be earned by residents of Milwaukee.

  • 42.1 percent RPP workers (40 percent goal)
  • 4.5 percent women (5 percent goal)
  • 1.2 percent disabled veterans (1 percent goal)
  • 41.5 percent minority workers (25 percent goal)

“The outstanding metrics in hiring diversity and small businesses are attributed to Gilbane | Smith’s extensive and inclusive outreach efforts,” Brooks said. “Gilbane | Smith has been a true partner, successfully delivering this landmark facility while building workforce capacity in Milwaukee and the region. This project was truly built for Milwaukee, by Milwaukee.”

“Our dedicated project team, along with the exceptional craftworkers, poured their hearts and expertise into completing the Baird Center,” said Alicia Dupies, Gilbane Building Company Vice President and Milwaukee Business Leader. “Every individual involved in this transformation is nothing short of extraordinary. This expansion promises to revolutionize our city’s ability to host conventions, creating a positive ripple effect on our local economy. We take immense pride in supporting the Wisconsin Center District’s investment in the city of Milwaukee.”

“The entire Gilbane | Smith team, along with our trade partners, are proud of the work accomplished here. We look forward to seeing the benefits our community will realize from the expanded and renovated Baird Center,” said Mike Krolczyk, C.D. Smith Senior Vice President.

The Baird Center expansion nearly doubled the convention center’s size, bringing the expo hall to 300,000 contiguous square feet, adding 24 new meeting rooms for a total of 52, six additional loading docks for a total of 22, and a rooftop ballroom with outdoor terraces. The Baird Center features sensory rooms, nursing mother’s rooms, and all-gender restrooms, and will be LEED Silver certified. In addition to the expansion, the project included a complete modernization of the existing convention center.

“The Baird Center has been serving Milwaukee well for the past 26 years, and it’s an honor to have been entrusted with shaping its future for decades to come,” said Russ Murdock, Convention Center Practice Director at Henderson Engineers, the engineer of record for the project. “Flexibility is a priority for modern convention centers as these facilities are increasingly focused on serving multiple functions at once rather than the traditional approach of mainly booking large single exhibitions. This expansion gives the Baird Center the ability to seamlessly run multiple shows and events at the same time thanks to the diversity of meeting spaces that are now available, providing them the opportunity to utilize the building’s footprint to its full potential.”

“It’s been a privilege to collaborate with the Wisconsin Center District, our design partner TVS, and Gilbane | Smith to create a convention center that will attract visitors from across the globe and serve as a dynamic gathering place for our own community as well,” EUA CEO Rich Tennessen said. “We are honored to contribute to Milwaukee’s skyline and to its future.”

“TVS is privileged to have been on this journey to design a next-generation meetings, convention, and events facility for Milwaukee,” TVS Principal Rob O’Keefe said. “The evolution of the concept and design, combined with the diverse project team to make our collective vision a reality, sets a new standard not only for Milwaukee, but for the meetings industry as a whole.”

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