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The Moderne keeps it local

The Moderne

Photos submitted by Rinka Chung Architecture Inc.

The product of Milwaukee’s “native sons,” The Moderne has a local feel from the penthouse floor contractors to the atypical foundation.

During a review of the final stages at The Moderne, principal architect Matt Rinka of Rinka Chung Architects Inc. and Rick Barrett of Barrett Visionary Development LLC were making the rounds of the building when a construction worker approached the pair.

The Milwaukee resident told Rinka and Barrett that the months of employment on site “saved” his family from the recession that particularly hindered the building industry. It’s an example, Barrett said, of the effect a project such as The Moderne can have on a city beyond architecture and scrutinized steps with elected officials.

“Matt’s from Milwaukee, I’m from Milwaukee, we’re native sons of this area,” Barrett said. “From our perspective, having locals on the job was something we needed to do as part of our loan package [from the city], but it was something we wanted to do.”

Key to keeping momentum going after the condo boom went bust was an “uncompromising” dedication to the construction and makeup of The Moderne. Barrett and his team meticulously combed through contractor documents to beat equal opportunity and local hiring requirements, and maintained the importance of new, interesting construction regardless of the poor economy. From an architectural perspective, Rinka pushed for a “timeless” structure, all clean lines and limited existing reference points.

Local engineers also found crafty solutions to keep the project moving, and come in ahead of deadline and under budget.

Loei Badreddine, project engineer at Milwaukee-based Graef-USA Inc., altered the types of support columns as the building went up. The change made for an easier switch to different columns for penthouse and terrace floors, and enabled construction crews with Madison-based J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. to implement their “flying form” process.

For the building’s foundation, developers lucked out in terms of soil strength at the Old World Third site. However, there was scant history on the adjacent properties, which limited basement depth and retention options.

Badreddine and his team opted for a nontraditional dish-like mat base, offering deep support for elevators in the center of the building and, as the foundation sloped upward, enabling less expensive materials, better drainage and a condensed footprint.

With The Moderne on firm footing and an indelible part of downtown, Barrett said his goal is to keep that elusive element of “momentum” moving forward. The progress at The Moderne gives those involved a stylized launching pad, he said, “to do other great things in the city.”

The Moderne

Location: Milwaukee

Submitting companies: Barrett Visionary Development LLC, Milwaukee; Graef-USA Inc., Milwaukee

General contractor: J.H. Findorff & Son Inc., Madison

Architect: Rinka Chung Architecture Inc., Milwaukee

Engineers: Graef-USA Inc. (structural, civil and landscape architecture); Butters-Fetting Co. Inc., Milwaukee (mechanical/HVAC); Uihlein Electric Co. Inc., Brookfield (electrical)

Owner: Barrett Visionary Development LLC

Project size: 30 stories

Project cost: $55 million

Start date: January 2011

Completion date: November 2012

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