Northwestern Mutual, a financial services company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has expanded into a new, modern office space – in a building that is nearly a century old. The company completely renovated the interior of Milwaukee’s Van Buren building, built in 1926, and Banker Wire woven wire mesh now clads its central elevator banks.
Northwestern Mutual bought the 158,000-square-foot, seven-story Van Buren building in January 2013, and worked with Eppstein Uhen Architects, Milwaukee, to redesign its interior. Northwestern Mutual aimed to achieve a contemporary aesthetic for the open-concept office, where more than 600 employees work. The modern design relies on the interplay of wood, glass, concrete and metal. In the elevator banks, walls clad in sleek Banker Wire mesh are juxtaposed with warm-looking wood paneling, creating a contemporary space that embodies the company’s identity as a state-of-the-art workplace.
“The Banker Wire woven wire mesh contributed a valuable design solution for this space. Integration of the mesh around the elevator openings not only solved our concerns regarding durability and seaming at the control panels, but the pattern’s high degree of opacity also satisfied our aesthetic expectations of the material,” says Jennifer Herr, senior interior designer with Eppstein Uhen Architects.
After consulting with Banker Wire, designers selected DS-1 woven wire mesh for the space. Gently undulating flat wires woven with thinner, straight wires produce a robust, symmetric fabric with soothing qualities that bring visual depth to this vertical application. The opaque metal fabric contrasts texturally with the smooth elevator door and complements the warmth of nearby wood paneling for a modern aesthetic that achieves the architect’s design goals.
“We worked directly with Banker Wire throughout the design and detailing process. This collaboration resulted in an elegant but functional installation solution that satisfied our entire team,” says Herr.
The metal fabric was incorporated around the elevator openings and control panels, blending a stylish look with full functionality. Banker Wire worked with interior contractor H.J. Martin and Son, Green Bay, WI, to ensure a successful and easy installation.
"Banker Wire customer service was helpful throughout the installation. With their support, we successfully met our customer's deadline,” says Kelly Tatroe, project manager with H.J. Martin and Son.
Northwestern Mutual set a goal of achieving LEED Silver certification, and the Banker Wire mesh will contribute to that effort. Manufactured just 30 miles from Milwaukee, the Banker Wire product contributes to the Regional Materials credit. The wire is composed of 80 to 85 percent post-consumer and 12 to 18 percent pre-consumer recycled steel, helping designers create a sustainable space.
Renovations were completed in September 2013. The project team included general contractor M.A. Morstenson Co., Milwaukee, architects Eppstein Uhen Architects, Milwaukee, and installer H.J. Martin and Son, Inc., Green Bay.