The Mitchell Park Conservatory Domes are a legacy icon for Milwaukee County, the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin, and a treasured horticultural landmark. However, decades of wear and tear and deferred maintenance brought the facility to a crossroads, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to list them as one of America’s most endangered historic places. In response to widespread concern for the future of The Domes, Milwaukee County retained Arts Market, a specialized feasibility, economic analysis and strategy consultant, to explore a comprehensive strategy for the repair, restoration and preservation of The Domes.
The result was a detailed strategy for public-private partnerships leveraging the missions of various companies, organizations and institutions, tax incentive programs, County participation, and private fundraising to create a financial environment for their preservation. The strategy outlined a scenario in which The Domes are repaired and take on an expanded role and presence within a redeveloped park setting and where building upgrades transform the facility into a multifaceted horticultural destination. The strategy also sought to attract partnerships with other interests, increase revenue generating rental facilities and facilitate historically appropriate restoration to the 1960’s era structures to meet tax incentive program requirements.
Saiki Design worked to develop the conceptual master plan for the physical development of The Domes and surrounding County Park in alignment with the financial and operational strategy for the site. The plan included improved vehicular circulation and parking, a reconfigured entry and new welcome center, a series of themed gardens, public and private event spaces, renovation of the adjacent public park and recreational fields for the community and neighborhood and cost estimate and phasing strategies for implementation.