Wisconsin Convention Center Expansion Project Topped Off

The Wisconsin Center District (WCD), with the help of its construction management team Gilbane I Smith, installed the final piece of structural steel to complete the frame of the $456 million Baird Center (the new name of Milwaukee's convention center) expansion. The event was marked with a formal ceremony, where speakers included WCD President and CEO Marty Brooks; Governor Tony Evers; Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson; Baird Chairman and CEO Steve Booth; WCD Board Chairman Jim Kanter; Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers; and Visit Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith.

Once complete, the expanded Baird Center will double in size to 1.3 million square feet, including 300,000 square feet of exhibition space, 400 indoor parking spaces and a rooftop ballroom with outdoor terraces. “This will allow us to not only solicit larger events, but host multiple events simultaneously or overlapping, putting more heads in beds for our hotel partners and more table turns for the restaurants, bars and taverns in Milwaukee,” said Brooks.

The Baird Center will include intentional features such as quiet rooms, nursing mothers’ rooms and gender-neutral restrooms to ensure that the building is inclusive for all. The expansion will include sustainability features such as an underground stormwater management system, on-site food composter and a solar roof. The WCD is also applying for LEED Silver certification.

Baird Center Expansion_Wisconsin Center District
Once complete, the expanded Baird Center will double in size to 1.3 million square feet (Wisconsin Center District)

The WCD continues to follow through on its self-imposed Disadvantaged Business Enterprise commitment, hiring at least 25 percent minority-owned businesses, five percent women-owned businesses and one percent disabled-veteran-owned businesses for construction. It also aims to have at least 40 percent of on-site construction labor hours to be performed by trades workers residing in Milwaukee’s most underserved zip codes.

Owned and operated by the WCD, The Baird Center is located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. It is the hub of convention business in Wisconsin and is ideal for trade and consumer shows, conventions, banquets, business meetings and celebrations. The current convention center offers 188,695 square feet of contiguous exposition space and 37,500 square feet of ballroom space, accommodating up to 1,000 vendors and 10,000 guests while also offering more intimate spaces for groups as small as 10.

The expansion will reach substantial completion in March 2024, with first events booked in May. For more information, visit www.wcd.org and www.bairdcenter.com.

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