Interior of the Northwestern Mutual Headquarters' atrium

Northwestern Mutual Headquarters and Community Amenities

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1.1 Million GSF; 32 stories

Milwaukee’s first significant building of the 21st century, Northwestern Mutual Headquarters and Community Amenities reflects the city’s invigorating urban lifestyle and serves as a beacon for the Northwestern Mutual family, Greater Milwaukee residents, and visitors. The building design includes an over 3-story “Commons” that extends along the south side of East Mason Street, covering an area over two city blocks.

The Commons have public space with a visitor center, café, and outdoor dining capable of serving 6,000 meals per day. Fitness centers and other amenities serve staff occupying the building, as well as the thousands of Northwestern Mutual employees that visit the facility for training and conferences annually. A corporate museum was included within the headquarters facility and there are three acres of park land around the building that include a water feature.

Part of the Commons was constructed over the existing basement and foundation of the original 100+-year-old corporate headquarters and the remaining basement level of the existing circa 1980s corporate headquarters.


  • LEED Gold certified.
  • AEI 2019 Best Overall Project
  • Development of new MEP infrastructure spines to serve the three major components of the facility.
  • The mechanical system aimed for a zero aesthetic impact on the lobby space, implementing creative solutions to hide systems above ceilings and behind walls.
  • Development of a central heating and cooling plant that serves the office tower, the 2-city block Commons area, and the original corporate headquarters complex.
  • Development of plug-and-play MEP systems for a flexible office environment, including power and HVAC systems.
  • Utilization of a raised floor for office components, providing individual HVAC control for office tenants.
  • Energy measurements and verification via a unique system of electrical, water, and gas meters.
  • Building Management and Control System (BMCS) provides the ability to view trends in power consumption and quality, as well as program lighting controls.
  • Lighting and controls extend to the park, which features options for holiday lighting and the ability to tap into additional electrical capacity as needed for large events.
  • Fire alarm system includes redundant fire alarm control panels located on every 7th level and across the commons.
  • Designed to reduce energy consumption on a cost basis by over 30% compared to ASHRAE 2007 standards.
  • Designed for lighting to use less than 80% of the energy allowed by code.
  • Designed to reduce water usage by over 38% over baseline.
  • Green roof provides aesthetic appeal and encourages water sustainability.
  • Design and implementation of a smoke control system for the 6+-story atrium interconnecting the new Commons with the existing corporate headquarters.

Photography credit: Tom Rossiter Photography

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