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Wisconsin Center District celebrates completion of expanded Baird Center in Milwaukee

Date: May 22, 2024 1:57:09 PM | Author: Sarah Maio + Breanne Auxier + Holly Brenner

Wisconsin Center District, Gilbane | Smith and trade partners successfully unveil the newly expanded Baird Center

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - (May 2024) - Wisconsin Center District, Gilbane Building Company | C.D. Smith Construction, and EUA | TVS gathered with trade partners and community members to celebrate the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the newly expanded Baird Center in downtown Milwaukee.

Baird Center Expansion Project action shot of Wisconsin Center District and project stakeholders cutting the grand opening ribbon

This monumental achievement promises to redefine Milwaukee’s skyline and energize the heart of the city. The Baird Center isn’t just another structure—it’s a catalyst for progress. With an expanded footprint of 1.3 million SF, the Baird Center is expected to attract larger and more prestigious events, while also executing multiple, simultaneous and overlapping events, all helping to contribute to Milwaukee’s economy.

CD Smith Construction Team at Baird Center Expansion Project Grand Opening Gala in Milwaukee Wisconsin

“Gilbane | Smith has been an exceptional partner not only to construct Milwaukee’s newest crown jewel but to embrace our unprecedented goals in supporting diversity and equity,” said Marty Brooks, Wisconsin Center District President and CEO. “Gilbane | Smith delivered on the build during an unpredictable market – both from an economic and supply chain perspective – and I valued the transparency and proactive approach in their communication on all things project-related during the last nearly three years.”

The expansion project included a comprehensive economic inclusion plan by committing to 25 percent minority-owned businesses, five percent women-owned businesses, and one percent disabled veteran-owned businesses. Ultimately, Baird Center surpassed its overall business inclusion goals by 11.7%.

  • 3% minority-owned businesses (25% goal)
  • 5% women-owned businesses (5% goal)
  • 1% disabled-veteran-owned businesses (1% goal)

The project also committed to a residents-preference program of 40 percent, which means that at least $40 million of the $100 million in anticipated construction wages will be earned by residents of Milwaukee.

  • 1% Resident Preference Program (RPP) workers (40% goal)
  • 5% women (5% goal)
  • 2% disabled veterans (1% goal)
  • 5% minority workers (25% goal)

“The outstanding metrics in hiring diversity and small businesses are attributed to Gilbane | Smith’s extensive and inclusive outreach efforts,” said Brooks. “Gilbane | Smith has been a true partner, successfully delivering this landmark facility while building workforce capacity in Milwaukee and the region. This project was truly built for Milwaukee, by Milwaukee.”

Aerial performer at Baird Center Expansion Project Grand Opening Gala in Milwaukee Wisconsin

“Our dedicated project team, along with the exceptional craftworkers, poured their hearts and expertise into completing the Baird Center,” said Alicia Dupies, Gilbane Building Company Vice President and Milwaukee Business Leader. “Every individual involved in this transformation is nothing short of extraordinary. This expansion promises to revolutionize our city’s ability to host conventions, creating a positive ripple effect on our local economy. We take immense pride in supporting the Wisconsin Center District’s investment in the city of Milwaukee.”

“The entire Gilbane | Smith team, along with our trade partners, are proud of the work accomplished here. We look forward to seeing the benefits our community will realize from the expanded and renovated Baird Center,” said Mike Krolczyk, C.D. Smith Senior Vice President.

CD Smith Construction Team with dancer in the background at Baird Center Expansion Project Grand Opening Gala in Milwaukee Wisconsin

With its sleek design, cutting-edge facilities, and expansive event spaces, Baird Center is poised to revolutionize how Milwaukee hosts conventions. The newly expanded venue nearly doubled the convention center’s size, bringing the expo hall to 300,000 contiguous SF, adding 24 new meeting rooms for a total of 52, six additional loading docks for a total of 22, and a rooftop ballroom with spectacular outdoor terraces. Baird Center features sensory rooms, nursing mother’s rooms, and all-gender restrooms, and will be LEED Silver certified. In addition to the expansion, the project included a complete modernization of the existing convention center.

“It’s been a privilege to collaborate with the Wisconsin Center District, our design partner TVS, and Gilbane | Smith to create a convention center that will attract visitors from across the globe and serve as a dynamic gathering place for our own community as well,” said Rich Tennessen, CEO of EUA. “We are honored to contribute to Milwaukee’s skyline and to its future.”

“TVS is privileged to have been on this journey to design a next-generation meetings, convention, and events facility for Milwaukee,” said TVS Principal Rob O’Keefe. “The evolution of the concept and design, combined with the diverse project team to make our collective vision a reality, sets a new standard not only for Milwaukee but for the meetings industry as a whole.”

About Wisconsin Center District
The Wisconsin Center District owns and operates Baird Center, Miller High Life Theatre and UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our mission is to maintain and continuously build our professional reputation in the convention, entertainment, and sporting events industry, on all levels, both locally and nationally. We offer remarkable, iconic venues that prioritize sustainability and green initiatives, ensuring accessibility, cutting-edge innovations, and inclusive amenities – all enveloped in our signature Midwestern hospitality and warmth, creating unparalleled and unforgettable events. Visit for more information.

About Gilbane Building Company
Gilbane is a global integrated construction and facility management services firm with strong roots in Southeast Wisconsin over the past 40+ years. Gilbane’s downtown Milwaukee office has been steadily growing in recent years. Gilbane has assembled an impressive portfolio of work, while staying true to our commitment to community partnerships, building capacity and safety excellence. Our extensive experience translates into a builder our clients can trust with valuable lessons learned and best practices on a variety of building types including corporate, high-rise developments, industrial, food and beverage, education, hospitality, and municipal, to name a few. Visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

About C.D. Smith
C.D. Smith Construction is an industry leader in safely providing the highest quality commercial construction services. Utilizing an integrated approach and self-performing trade services combined with technical expertise, our team serves as a solutions provider throughout all phases of a project, from planning through construction. With veteran leadership and a dedication to our employees and clients, we proudly place our name on projects of all sizes across the United States. Visit or follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram and YouTube.

About EUA
EUA is best known for designing environments that elevate people’s potential. More than 250+ employees in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Denver, and Atlanta demonstrate an unparalleled commitment to the markets, communities, and clients they serve. The respected 117-year-old firm specializes in several markets, including community, healthcare, industrial, learning, living, science + technology, and workplace. For additional information, please visit the firm’s website at

About TVS
TVS is an award-winning architecture and interior design firm headquartered in Atlanta with a global footprint. The firm’s experts bring honed perspectives to workplace interiors and corporate office, hospitality, cultural arts, convention center, mixed-use, sports, education, retail, healthcare and multifamily residential projects of every scale. This multi-disciplinary, multi-market diversity equips the firm’s designers and strategists to best support even a client’s most complex goals. Founded in 1968, the 100% employee-owned firm also has offices in Los Angeles, Shanghai and Tampa. TVS delivers high-impact environments around the world. For more, visit or join the social conversation @tvsdesign.


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