A New Gateway: Coakley Brothers Water Tower Building
Coakley Brothers Commission National Work of Art to
Crown Renovated Building
Kaleidoscope Water Tower will serve as a ‘gateway’ to Milwaukee’s design district
MILWAUKEE — Coakley Brothers, the legacy Milwaukee company known for its premier line of business services, is bringing back its iconic rooftop water tower — with a colorful, astonishing twist to pronounce the “gateway” to Walker’s Point and the growing design district.
Coakley Brothers has commissioned Brooklyn-based artist, Tom Fruin, to construct one of his signature mosaic sculptures of art at its 400 S. 5th Street business headquarters. The public installation project is part of Coakley’s $6 million building renovation which launched this summer and is up for BOZA committee approval.
The art installation anchors Coakley Brothers’ presence in the Milwaukee design community. While the company is well known for its commercial relocation, facility management, and self-storage services, it has seen tremendous success with the launch of its office furniture and business interiors design division, Brothers Interiors, which launched in 2012.
The move has lead Coakley to become “the official office furniture dealer” of the Milwaukee Bucks, as well as the state’s sole dealer and showroom for the West Elm WORKSPACE with Inscape line.
It was during meetings with West Elm in Brooklyn where Brothers Business Interiors owner Peggy Coakley first discovered Fruin’s work. She was driving through the borough when she spotted Fruin’s “Watertower” piece on top of a building. “My mouth dropped and I had my driver pull over to get a better look. The beauty of the piece was striking! I immediatley thought of our own watertower base on top of our building and the possibility of putting one on of these on our rooftop for city of Milwaukee. I knew I needed to find the artist and bring this home”
The Coakley water tower art project extends Fruin’s internationally acclaimed Icon art series. Similar to Fruin’s previous artworks, the soaring scuplture will crown the building and feature salvaged plexiglass, plastic and steel arranged in a chromatic patchwork pattern. The inspired design provides a unique, kaleidoscopic adaptation of the water towers that heavily punctuated the American urban skyline throughout the 20th century.
Coakley says the prismatic water tower will be hard to miss.
In the daytime, the sculpture’s multi-colored panes will illuminate with the sun. At night, the scuplture will be lit to transform into a beacon of light from its central post in the Walker’s Point neighborhood.
Prime viewing locations for the artwork include Interstates 94 and 43; the archway of the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge; and from various points around downtown.
Coakley hopes the public will see the sculpture as a symbol of pride for the city’s diverse and vibrant citizens.
Upon a BOZA committee approval, this will be moving forward in the next several weeks with a formal evening lighting debut.