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Milwaukee's Coolest Offices: Rockwell Automation space about collaboration, exercise and even banking (Video)

Milwaukee's Coolest Offices: Rockwell Automation space about collaboration, exercise and even banking (Video) Banner Image

Rockwell Automation Inc., one of Milwaukee's most well-known manufacturing firms, is located in a historic 3-million-square-foot building in the Walker's Point neighborhood. But that has not stopped the firm from dramatically upgrading its space in recent years to add many modern amenities, including an abundance of collaboration spaces, a Customer Service Experience Center and even a BMO Harris Bank branch.

Check out the attached slideshow and watch the video below to get a look at the unique office space.

Visitors to the building at 1201 S. Second St. are welcomed in a recently renovated lobby that had not been updated since it was built in the 1960s.

"The lobby re-design was a strategic, long term investment to our company with the intent to deliver a more engaging, interactive, collaborative experience that can be enjoyed by employees, customers and potential future talent," said Kelly Kilmer, Rockwell's manager – space planning of global workplace services. "The lobby helps showcase a modern space for visitors, while maintaining the historic charm many of us love, but with new technology we expect. We maintained the beautiful craftsmanship of the wood and repurposed it on conference room walls and end tables."

Another newly created space is the Customer Experience Center, an expansive state-of-the-art meeting and collaboration space "designed to dazzle customers."

"This facility brings the customer experience to a new level against the backdrop of a high-tech setting that speaks to the future of our company," Kilmer said. "The center was built to deliver an engaging, interactive experience that can be customized to speak to specific customer needs. And while customers will always have first priority, the center was also built as a collaborative employee work space to be enjoyed by all. The center also features interactive surface hub displays, augmented reality tools and an interactive touch table where users can collaborate and build out network solutions using Rockwell Automation products." 

Other building highlights include a fitness center and yoga studio, spin class room, walking track and a health services center. Employees have access to bicycle parking, pingpong tables, a small market, dry cleaning service, Rockwell merchandise shop, IT Zone, a green roof, and Bradley Hall gym.

And then there is the largest largest four-faced clock in the western hemisphere, which includes an inside viewing area that offers views of more than 26 miles in any direction of southeastern Wisconsin.

The many features helped Rockwell Automation win a designation as one of Milwaukee's Coolest Offices by the Milwaukee Business Journal in its 2019 awards program. Rockwell Automation is the first of eight firms that have earned that designation in the newspaper's awards program. Watch for the rest of the winners to be announced over the next two weeks.

The winners will be featured on the Milwaukee Business Journal's website over the next two weeks and in our April 26 weekly edition.

I caught up recently with Kilmer to talk about the many of the unique aspects of the workplace.

Q: Talk about the process that was used to determine the look of your office space? "The design and appearance of the office has to begin with a careful consideration of people and their work. There is no one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf solution for an optimal workplace. Our goal is to create a wide range of work spaces to meet different criteria of each user. Workplaces with collaboration areas, designed for interactions both impromptu and planned, make it easy for people to share ideas. Workers are looking for something more than a desk: they want to spend their days in an inspiring space that contributes to their purpose, facilitates their cognitive and physical well-being, and allows them concentrate and interact productively with their colleagues."

Q: Has the office space been helpful in recruiting and retaining employees? "Yes, the new spaces are a strategic, long term investment to our company; delivering a more engaging, interactive, collaborative experience that can be enjoyed by employees, customers and potential future talent." 

Q: Can you explain some of the unique aspects of the space and how it is helpful to employees? "There are multiple collaboration areas throughout the Rockwell Automation downtown campus that encourage employee engagement and interaction which helps to spark innovation. The fitness center, yoga studio, spin class room and walking track provide areas for energizing and healthy breaks. In the health services center, employees can schedule a doctor’s visit, physical therapy, or even a massage.  Pick up some Rockwell SWAG at the ROK Shop or fix your computer bugs in the IT Zone. You can even do your banking at our in-house BMO Harris bank."  

Q: How did you use the historic nature of the building in the new design? Our most recent headquarters renovation is our main lobby. The lobby had been largely left unchanged since it was built in the early 1960s. It had amazing wood craftsmanship, but was showing its age. The lobby re-design helps showcase a modern space for visitors, while maintaining the historic charm many of us love, but with new technology we expect. We maintained the beautiful craftsmanship of the wood and repurposed wood that was removed: it’s now placed on walls in conference rooms and through the creation of new end tables." 

Q: How often are the fitness center and yoga studio used? What other aspects have been added to allow more interaction between employees? "The employee amenity areas are used on a daily basis. Employees love to interact in the 7th and 8th floor collaboration areas, pingpong tables and walking track." 

Company information:

Company: Rockwell Automation

Address: 1201 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee

CEO/President: Blake Moret

Number of employees: 3,000 at the Milwaukee location

Square footage of office: 3.2 million square feet

Architect/Designer: Rockwell Automation Facilities Team and Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA)

Number of years in space: Since 1903

Mark Kass
Milwaukee Business Journal

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