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SOM Reveals Inaugural Design for Mulva Cultural Center in Wisconsin

On Wednesday, May 1st, philanthropists James and Miriam Mulva, joined by Mike Walsh, Mayor of De Pere, Wisconsin, with local civic leaders, unveiled the inaugural design of the Mulva Cultural Center, a pioneering institution for world-class cultural programming in the Midwest. Clad in a curtain of transparent glass, the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed center will serve as a destination and cultural nexus for the city and region, with an array of spaces designed to celebrate De Pere’s vibrant creative community.

“The hiring of SOM as the architect for the Mulva Cultural Center shows just how significant this project is for the City of De Pere and the people of Northeast Wisconsin, and underscores our family’s longstanding commitment to enhancing the community my wife Miriam and I have known and loved since our childhood,” said Jim Mulva. “We are honored and thrilled to partner with SOM on what is a grand plan for bringing this addition to the heart of historic downtown De Pere as part of the city’s new Cultural District Master Plan.”

“We’re proud to be working with the Mulva family to realize the inaugural design of the Mulva Cultural Center,” said Scott Duncan, SOM Design Partner. “Our design for the Mulva Cultural Center creates a hub for the region’s creative community, bringing world-class cultural events and exhibitions to De Pere.”

Located on the banks of the Fox River, the Mulva Cultural Center was spearheaded by Jim and Miriam Mulva, both De Pere natives. The 60,000-square-foot center will offer world-class cultural experiences, elevating the creative and architectural landscape in the Greater Green Bay area. As a new home for the creative arts, it will host traveling exhibitions from leading global institutions, diverse cultural programming, educational opportunities for people of all ages, and more.

“As a city, we have always been incredibly proud of our rich history and traditions while also endlessly striving to build a vibrant and forward-thinking future. The Mulva Cultural Center embodies that spirit. We look forward to this world-class addition, and we are grateful for this significant opportunity to enrich and grow our community,” said De Pere Mayor Mike Walsh.

As visitors arrive to the Mulva Cultural Center, its transparent design will provide an elegant transition from outdoor to indoor spaces, creating visual connections from day to night and allowing the building to serve as a lantern on the river. Inside, an expansive, open-air atrium spans the building’s three stories, creating opportunities for new connections between cultural programs. A large auditorium, expansive event space, flexible permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, classrooms, a café, and outdoor terrace and indoor gathering spaces will provide new venues for cultural engagement.

Supported by a sophisticated structural system designed to maximize daylight and views, and minimize material use, the architecture of the Mulva Cultural Center will provide an elegant background for the institution’s diverse programming. A palette of native stone, timber, glass, and neutral metals will define the space, inspired by its location adjacent to the river on the Wisconsin prairies.

A landscape designed by the Office of James Burnett completes the building’s connection to the river and region, which features a lush greenspace replete with local plants and grasses. The landscape at the Mulva Cultural Center incorporates pedestrian pathways, public spaces, and multimodal-oriented infrastructure designed to increase connectivity to the site, the river, and the city.

SOM is providing a full suite of design services for the Mulva Cultural Center, including architecture, interior design, structural engineering, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering. The building is targeting completion in 2022.

About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is an influential collective of architects, designers, engineers and planners, responsible for some of the world’s most technically and environmentally advanced buildings, and significant public spaces. From a strategic regional plan to a single piece of furniture, SOM's designs anticipate change in the way we live, work and communicate, and have brought lasting value to communities around the world. The firm's approach is highly collaborative, and its interdisciplinary team is engaged on a wide range of international projects, with creative studios based across the globe.

About the Mulva Family Foundation

Under the direction of Miriam (Brozyna) Mulva and James (Jim) Mulva, the Mulva Family Foundation is dedicated to investing in their hometown of De Pere, and has realized significant contributions to the vibrancy of the city. Examples of prominent gifts from the Mulva Family Foundation to De Pere include the Gehl-Mulva Science Center, Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center, a statue named “The Conversion” and the Mulva Library, all located at St. Norbert College—Miriam’s alma mater. The Mulva Family Foundation is a tax-exempt private foundation funded by contributions from Jim and Miriam Mulva.

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