The Process

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Efforts to preserve a historical icon

The Mitchell Park Domes are not just glass and steel structures; they hold the memories, history, and cultural significance of Milwaukee. Preserving this iconic landmark requires a careful balance between honoring the past and embracing the future. Whether through rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, or a combination of both, it is essential to ensure that the spirit of the Mitchell Park Domes continue to thrive as a symbol of architectural excellence, natural beauty and community pride for years to come.



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Past efforts

The Mitchell Park Domes have stood as a beloved cultural landmark for decades. These iconic glass domes have attracted locals and tourists alike, offering a unique experience of nature’s beauty in an urban setting. However, as with any aging structure, the future of the Mitchell Park Domes has been a topic of discussion and debate. In 2016, one of the domes was temporarily closed due to concerns over falling debris. This incident sparked a community-wide conversation about the long-term viability of the domes. Careful thought and consideration has gone into helping the County make an informed and fiscally responsible decision and, as a result, the Domes Task Force was created. The Task Forces’ four-year planning effort resulted in many of the documents linked below; it concluded in 2019 with a recommendation to pursue the future state that is described in the ArtsMarket report. Following a delay caused by the pandemic, Milwaukee County studied the feasibility of pursuing the ArtsMarket report, and while there are many good ideas in that report, it was deemed to be a concept rather than an actionable strategy that could be implemented.


Mitchell Park’s Original Master Plan


Engberg Anderson

A Master Planning document for Mitchell Park and the Domes from 2000, which included capital improvement projects and maintenance between the years 2001-2007.

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Read the Engberg Anderson planning document
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Exploration of Costs to Repair & Update the Domes


GRAEF Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory Cost Option Updates

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the history of inspections, maintenance, and studies conducted on the Mitchell Park Domes, incorporating information from Milwaukee County and previous reports dating back to 1994. It includes updated cost estimates for five options from the 2008 “Show Dome Façade Study and Lower Level Façade Study,” expanded to cover the entire facility, support spaces, and the transition dome, as well as costs for necessary improvements to meet current code and ADA requirements.

Read the GRAEF Cost Option report
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Long-Term Strategic Planning Framework for the Conservatory


GRAEF Framework for the Long-Term Strategic Planning of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory

This document provides a framework for the long-term strategic planning for the future of the Conservatory, including analysis of peer cities.

Read the GRAEF Long-Term Planning report
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Recommendations & Feasibility of Options for the Future of the Conservatory


ConsultEcon HGA Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory Future Path and Feasibility Study
Read the ConsultEcon HGA study


Long-Term Vision for Future of the Conservatory and Surrounding Area


ArtsMarket Engberg Anderson A New Urban Botanical Park and Conservatory

A long-term future vision for the Conservatory, taking the previous analyses and reports into consideration. The ArtsMarket report proposes new ideas to not only restore the Domes, but also new ideas to enhance the vibrancy of the surrounding community through additions to Mitchell Park and the Clarke Square Neighborhood.

Read the ArtsMarket Engberg Anderson report


Business Plan Analysis for Domes Redevelopment Project


Husch Blackwell Baker Tilly Domes Business Plan Analysis

A 2022 analysis of the business plan for the Domes Redevelopment Project, which was based on the ArtsMarket report and submitted in 2019. Findings suggest the need for exploring additional sources of funding for the project.

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Read Husch Blackwell Baker Tilly Analysis


Mitchell Park Domes – Future State Planning and Construction Cost Estimating


Mitchell Park Domes – Future State Planning and Construction Cost Estimating

Four (4) construction alternatives for the Mitchell Park Domes that include planning, developed construction cost estimating, project feasibility budget, life cycle cost analysis, and conceptual architectural and engineering evaluations associated with those four options.

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Read Mitchell Park Domes – Future State Planning and Construction Cost Estimating here
Read Mitchell Park Domes Appendices- Future State Planning and Construction Cost Estimating here
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Project Timeline

This initiative is just getting started, so stay tuned to this space for more dates and milestones.

What’s different now?

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Careful thought and consideration have gone into helping the County make an informed and fiscally responsible decision and, over the years, many separate studies, including those linked above, have been conducted. While each study has uncovered new insights and brought forth new ideas, there is still more to learn and understand.


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Now, the County is taking elements of 2019 ArtsMarket recommendation and trying to refine it to something that could be implemented, while also gathering more information that has been missing from prior planning efforts. This includes a better understanding of the philanthropic community and what donors are willing to fund, as well as a more accurate cost for each potential future state of the Mitchell Park Conservatory.


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Regardless of the chosen path, the future of the Mitchell Park Domes heavily relies on community engagement and partnerships. Engaging the local community, seeking public input, and involving relevant stakeholders are essential steps in shaping the future of this cultural icon. Collaborations with botanical experts, architectural firms and organizations experienced in historical preservation can bring forth innovative ideas and sustainable solutions for the long-term viability of the domes.

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