Tom Fruin’s kaleidoscopic water tower will be a prismatic beacon on the Milwaukee skyline. (PHOTO: Coakley Brothers)
Coakley Brothers, which this summer announced and began a $6 million renovation project on its Walker’s Point headquarters at 400 S. 5th St., has unveiled a rendering of a plan to bring back the building’s rooftop water tower, sort of.
Coakley has tapped Brooklyn-based artist Tom Fruin to create a mosaic sculpture version of the water tower to be installed atop the seven-story building that sits across from the Iron Horse Hotel on the roundabout at the south end of the 6th Street Viaduct.
The design, shaped like a traditional wooden rooftop water tower used to regulate pressure in taller old buildings, appears to be made out of stained glass.
Fruin’s previous artworks, the soaring sculpture 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, including at this Coakley Brothers headquarters.
In the statement, Coakley said she hopes “the public will see the sculpture as a symbol of pride for the city’s diverse and vibrant citizens and a symbol of how neighborhoods and cities can be progressive and forward-thinking, while still being true to their roots.”
“Like the city, this piece is dynamic: a riot of color and vibrancy,” explained Fruin. ” In a way, the sculpture is inspired by the city. It’s a gift to the city. To have an opportunity to work at this size and scale is a dream come true.
“You’ll get a glimpse of the water tower sculpture from nearby backyards and peaking out over factories — it’ll brighten your commute when seen from the freeways.”
The installation of the work requires approval from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. The item is on the agenda for the committee’s Sept. 14 meeting.
If it is approved, the water tower will be unveiled in what Coakley calls a “formal evening lighting event.”