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A.O. Smith plans to build new Milwaukee corporate research center

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A.O. Smith plans to build a new corporate research center near its headquarters on Milwaukee’s northwest side, company officials announced Wednesday.

The 42,700-square-foot building, to be put up at 11000 W. Park Place, will house the water-heater and boiler manufacturer’s Corporate Technology Center, which will conduct research into water heating, water treatment and air purification and develop related products.

The new research center will include water heating and boiler test labs, water treatment labs, an air test lab and other specialized labs. The center will also have a lab to be used for building product prototypes, test fixtures and other equipment.

The company plans to break ground in September, and expects the project to finish near the end of 2018.

Milwaukee-based Irgens Partners is the project’s developer, and Zimmerman Architectural Studios is the project architect. Irgens will most likely name a general contractor in the next month.

A.O. Smith’s existing research center, which it has occupied since 1984, no longer fits the company’s needs, said Robert Heideman, senior vice president and chief technology officer.

“Not only is the company significantly different today than it was more than 30 years ago, the technologies are substantially different as well,” he said in a statement. “The team is excited to have a new space to carry out our mission.”

Ajita Rajendra, chairman and chief executive officer of A.O. Smith, said the company has increased the size of its Corporate Technology Center team by 40 percent since it entered the global water-treatment and air-purification markets.

“This new facility will give our team the capabilities to maintain our leadership position in these rapidly growing industries,” Rajendra said in a statement.

Local officials applauded the announcement. Alderman Jim Bohl said the project “speaks to the company’s confidence in the city of Milwaukee” and Mayor Tom Barrett said the news affirmed the city as a hub for business growth and innovation.

About Alex Zank, alex.zank@dailyreporter.com

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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