- Sep 29, 2011
Pier Wisconsin contains the Discovery Museum and is a center for Great Lakes research. The City of Milwaukee approved the construction of the structure in 2004. The 120,000-square-foot, $46 million complex opened in 2006 and contains a Science Education building with interactive exhibits and classrooms connected to a Great Lakes history and a research building that includes saltwater and freshwater tanks, a high-definition digital theater, classrooms, learning labs, and a stepped-down amphitheater to the water.
A number of sustainable elements were included in the project including a cold lake water intake that has been used to cool the building and return the water to the lake with a net change in the inner harbor of less than 1 degree F. Air conditioning loads are reduced through the use of a "cool roof" that uses reflective white roofing to reflect solar heat gain. Further, the 200-car underground parking garage is covered with a green roof, reducing runoff.
Because it is located along the shore of Lake Michigan, the Pier Wisconsin construction project has posed some unique challenges including waterproofing, which was accomplished using bentonite. Portions of the Aquarium are over the lake's surface, supported by a series of pilings driven deep into the lake bottom. These pilings are approximately 9 feet in diameter and paired with a series of smaller pilings that support an outdoor amphitheater and dock.