The new Northwestern Mutual Community Park construction project will introduce an entirely redeveloped entertainment space for families at Henry Maier Festival Park. Northwestern Mutual has been a sponsor of the area since 2006; a featured programming area for Summerfest, ethnic and cultural festivals, as well as other events held throughout the season.  In addition, the Northwestern Mutual Community Park can be accessed by the community, at no charge, on non-event days, during the summer.

Plans include a flexible stage area for community-based, family-focused programming, in addition to an exhibit area, which will be used for interactive children’s activities.  The new Northwestern Mutual Community Park will feature all new accessible playground equipment suited for children ages 6 months to 12 years, along with new permanent family restrooms. The project also integrates an environmentally-conscious design, and intentionally embraces the beautiful lakeside setting, including shaded areas for parents.

The new Northwestern Mutual Community Park intends to become the region’s premiere space for families by providing a showcase of community-based arts programming and creating engaging and accessible play for all children.

Construction Timeline: October 2020 – June 2021

Northwestern Mutual Community Park Features:

  • Enhanced Play Equipment: All new age-appropriate playground equipment will serve toddlers, preschool-age through school age-children. Interactive musical play will also be incorporated throughout the playground.  The play area will include soft surface flooring for safer play, shaded seating area for parents, and be defined by a perimeter fence.
  • Flexible Stage: Area will feature a new, permanent stage structure with accessible seating, and a viewing area for over 500 patrons. The performance stage will be elevated, covered, and wheelchair accessible.
  • Family Services Building: Addressing the specific needs of families, a new 1,800 square foot, air- conditioned family services building will be fully accessible, and feature the following:
  • Permanent Family Restrooms: Accessible restrooms will be equipped with changing tables for babies, children, and adults requiring an assistant.
  • Nursing Mothers Stations: Mothers seeking a quiet space to nurse will have dedicated space for that purpose.
  • Sensory Rooms: There will be three individual and wheelchair accessible, air-conditioned quiet rooms, creating a calm environment for children that may be overstimulated by the noise, environment, or experience.
  • Accessibility: A guiding priority of the design is to offer inclusive play for children who may experience a variety of challenges. The Northwestern Mutual Community Park aims to be one of the most accessible playgrounds in the entire state of Wisconsin.
  • Toddler Play Area: The former stage will be converted to a covered play area for toddlers, including shade, and age appropriate activities and equipment.
  • Flexible Programming Space: Over 4,000 square feet will be devoted to flexible programming spaces, which will allow local organizations and non-profit partners to provide interactive programming, on a rotational basis.
  • Community Engagement: The entertainment presented, as well as the interactive exhibits, will feature various programming produced by Milwaukee-based organizations, representing multiple perspectives.
  • Environmentally Conscious Design: The project actively integrates environmentally conscious design, including storm water management; recycled content on playground surface and equipment, and steel structures; LED lighting, and low-energy consumption fixtures; low-flow Zurn bathroom fixtures, and locally sourced products and materials.

Grand Opening:  June 2021

Square Footage: 54,000 square ft or approx. 1.25 acres

Design Team:   

  • Eppstein Uhen Architect  – Lead Architect
  • Ambrose Engineering, Inc. – Structural Engineer
  • RA Smith – Landscape Architect
  • The Sigma Group – Civil Engineer
  • Giles Engineering – Geotechnical and Environmental Consultant 

Construction Manager:  JCP Construction

Playground Equipment Suppliers:

  • Northland Recreation, LLC – Little Tikes Commercial
  • Gerber Leisure Products, Inc. – Landscape Structures
  • Lee Recreation, LLC – BCI Burke Company, LLC