The new Northwestern Mutual Community Park on the Summerfest grounds will open to the public this weekend.
The play area was funded by a $2 million donation from the Milwaukee-based life insurance company, which was announced in fall 2020.
A 54,000-square-foot community park replaces the former Northwestern Mutual Children’s Theater & Playzone at Henry Maier Festival Park and includes enhanced, accessible play equipment, a permanent stage, a toddler play area and flexible programming space. A new 1,800-square-foot family services building includes permanent family restrooms, nursing mothers stations and sensory rooms.
“The new Northwestern Mutual Community Park will connect families and children throughout our community, benefitting all who visit this new premiere family destination,” said Don Smiley, president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee World Festival Inc. “We want to thank Northwestern Mutual for their investment in this one-of-a-kind park, which creates engaging and accessible play.”
The community park will be open during Summerfest, ethnic festivals and other select events. Its inaugural season will run from June 19 to Aug. 1, and will be accessible to the community Monday through Friday from 12-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. It’s designed for children ages 2-12.
“We’re excited to officially open the Northwestern Mutual Community Park, one of Wisconsin’s most accessible parks, to Milwaukee residents and visitors,” said Eric Christophersen, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “This park reflects our company’s deep commitment to fostering an environment that welcomes people of all abilities and backgrounds, while also ensuring cultural traditions in our city, like Summerfest, thrive for years to come.”
The park’s design incorporates 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, Summerfest said.
Eppstein Uhen Architects was the lead architectural firm for the design of the park, and JCP Construction managed construction of the project.