Northwestern Mutual Towers and Commons

The panels for PFZ-53 woven wire mesh act partly as space dividers, creating individual spaces without closing off an area.

Northwestern Mutual Towers and Commons

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Products Used

The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was recently completed in the late summer of 2017. Standing at 32 floors and 550 feet, the second tallest building in the state of Wisconsin houses 1.1 million-square-feet of office space. The first floor Commons area contains an expansive public atrium, tables, seating areas, a Starbucks, and the “Northwestern Mutual Experience” — a museum and financial-planning information center.

Downstream, the designer of the experience, thoughtfully crafted the exhibit space. Inspired by a theme of interconnectedness, Downstream expressed their vision in the fixtures, displays, and other physical attribute of the space to connect three primary content zones with Northwestern Mutual’s Historic past and its future as a financial security business required division. To create segmentation without construction solid walls, Downstream incorporated Banker Wire’s PFZ-53 woven wire mesh in stainless steel. “We liked the idea of having a sense of transparency but also dividing the exhibit area to create partitions to support the interactive display systems,” explained Tim Moraitis, a UX Strategist at Downstream. “This mesh was a wonderful success as it served both a functional and thematic purpose. The material empowered us to take our story theme and make it tangible within the space, as seen in the way it helps focus people on both the digital and physical exhibit content.”

PFZ-53 is a wire mesh pattern created by Banker Wire, distinguished by its changes in wire frequency to create a striped pattern. These stripes create unique high and low transparency areas in the design.

Xibitz fabricated all of the interactive custom millwork which needed to accommodate heating, cooling, and other technical needs. Banker Wire wove the mesh panels in the specified orientation and then formed them on a press brake before presenting the material to Xibitz who devised a custom way of mounting the panels to the structure. Brandon Dohrn from Xibitz said, “Altogether we fabricated 11 mesh walls with three panels for each side. We were able to emphasize the designer’s vision for a plaid-like pattern of the mesh by doing the panels both front and back. It allows light through and creates a moiré pattern that appears to move when the viewer moves their position.”

In addition to the successful outcome, this project is geographically significant for Banker Wire since the Northwestern Mutual Tower stands right down the road from where Banker Wire was originally founded in 1896 as one of Milwaukee’s early metal fabricators.

For more information on this project, please visit the press release page here.

Project Designer:
Project Architect:
Pickard Chilton
Project Fabricator:
Project Applications:
Space Dividers & Displays
Building Types:
Office & Workplace

Download Project Sheet