Milwaukee Tool

Milwaukee Tool Re-Adaptive Reuse

Milwaukee Tool, founded in 1924, makes power tools for the construction industry. As they continue to grow and adapt to the 21st century marketplace, Milwaukee Tool acquired and renovated the existing Blue Cross Blue Shield building in downtown Milwaukee. The existing structure featured 5 stories and a basement. This project is an excellent example of Re-adaptive Reuse, or the repurposing of an existing structure to a purpose other than that for which it was originally designed. In this case, a traditional office building built in 1978 is being adapted for research and development laboratories as well as updated office layouts.

The 1978 structure had been sitting vacant for eight to ten years and was ripe for a second life. The renovated structure includes 400,000 sf of offices and laboratories. In addition, the design features a monumental stairway with a jumbo-tron video system. This unique space, which can accommodate many people, is used for company announcements, presentations, and training activities.

Other design features include the creation of a light well that penetrates through the building. The last-century design did not take our current understanding regarding the value of natural light into consideration. The light well made all of the workspaces more desirable. The entire exterior of the building façade was redone with a curtain wall, and new kitchen and employee spaces were created within the building’s various work areas! Finally, the design required a new roof over large assembly areas, challenging the structural engineers to accommodate sensitive, large-span spaces.

The stunning new space in the heart of downtown Milwaukee is well placed to take Milwaukee Tool successfully into the next transformative decades, providing them with state-of-the-art research and development resources while offering an attractive and adaptive work environment for their employees.

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Project Data

400,000 Square Feet

Re-Adaptive Reuse 


GRAEF Services

Industrial Architecture
Structural Engineering

Milwaukee Tool Re-Adaptive Reuse Contact

Beau Sanders

Beau Sanders

Market Team Leader - Mixed-Use