The Fox Cities Exhibition Center (FCEC) is a one-of-a-kind building, not just in Appleton, but throughout the entire state of Wisconsin. Here is a first-hand glimpse of some of the features that will be a part of the FCEC.
The most unique feature is the way the structure is built. The exhibition space, with its concrete floor and ability to be divided into three separate spaces, is built into the side of a hill at Jones Park. This posed a unique challenge; crews had to remove 76,000 cubic yards of dirt. Despite the obstacles, the architects at Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc., based in Milwaukee, wanted to allow for a rooftop plaza, shown in the rendering below. Upon completion, nearly 9,000 cubic feet of concrete will have been used to construct the project.
This was the first time Zimmerman had ever designed a building into a hill. For the construction crews at Miron Construction Co., Inc., who executed the design plans, building into the hill was challenging because much of the plaza deck had to be supported by two large plate girders that weigh 110,00 pounds (55 tons) each. They also had to drive more than 1,000 feet of sheet piling into the ground to hold back soil during excavation. The specialized design allows for a street-view from the building, as displayed in the rendering below.
The FCEC building will be accessible from Jones Park and from the street to allow for multiple uses and revenue potential. You can see in the rendering below that there will be concert space in the park, as well as green area, and the open windows of the exhibition center provide unique ambiance within the building.
The design of the building itself allows for multiple uses. The Exhibition Center space will have a poured concrete floor, as well as three dividers. The space can be used as one big event space or as three separate spaces. To one side of the main event space will be pre-function space, shown below. This space will serve as an area people can retire to during breaks from presentations or where venders can set up exhibit booths. It will have higher-end finishes than the actual exhibition space. There will also be two conference rooms, at street-level, available for rent.
The building’s design will incorporate the unique history of the Fox Cities. The architect wanted to incorporate the concept of paper, forests, rivers and the park into the overall layout of the exhibition center. You will see examples of these four concepts throughout the building. The carpet in the pre-function space has the slight appearance of logs, incorporating the paper and forest aspect.
One of the biggest nods to Appleton’s history will be the spire, shown below, that runs vertically through the entire building. The spire represents the smokestack that was a part of the first fully-operational power plant in the country. It is 82 feet tall to correspond with 1882, the year that the power plant opened. The structure will be lit with color-changing LED lights that can be changed to accommodate a visiting organization or to celebrate a special event or holiday.
Lastly, ten communities in the Fox Cities agreed to fund the Fox Cities Exhibition Center project via their hotel room tax. As a way of thanking the communities, pieces of art will be incorporated throughout the space to represent each of the ten communities.