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Milwaukee’s New Fiserv Forum Makes History with Bird-Friendly Design

14 Nov, 2018

By: Michael Popke

After an inordinate number of bird deaths were reported at the site of U.S. Bank Stadium — the home of the Minnesota Vikings — facility operators appear to have made bird-friendliness a priority.

Fiserv Forum, the new Milwaukee Bucks arena that opened in August, boasts design elements that make it less likely for kamikaze birds to fly into the large glass windows. Early in the design process of the $524 million arena, the NBA team and facility architect Populous agreed to incorporate special glass treatments invisible to the human eye that make the surface less reflective to birds, which often collide with other glass buildings and die.

“Honestly, this is not a typical or traditional thing we’ve done,” Gabe Braselton, the Populous architect responsible for the overall design of the building, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, adding that the bird-friendly measures did not add to the cost of the arena. “It seemed like a unique opportunity for us.”

“The Bucks stepped up for birds in a way that no sports franchise ever has,” Bryan Lenz, former director of Bird City Wisconsin and now with the American Bird Conservancy, told the newspaper, adding that birds help combat pests, pollinate plants and spread seeds.

“I know it sounds like it’s not a big deal, but it is — because we happen to be in a migration path,” Bucks President Peter Feigin told the Journal Sentinel, crediting Lenz with persistence that paid off. “It was one of the hundred meetings that I took. It lasted five minutes, and I was sold. He had a very impactful presentation.”

The NBA is hailing the 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum in the heart of Milwaukee as the “world’s first bird-friendly arena.”

According to the American Bird Conservancy, up to 1 billion birds die annually after colliding with glass in the United States. Scientists estimate that this staggering total likely accounts for 5 to 10 percent of the birds in the United States and contributes to ongoing declines in bird populations across North America.

“The arena was designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED) Bird Collision Deterrence credit (SSpc55), which was created in partnership with ABC,” according to a statement from the American Bird Conservancy. “Credit SSpc55 has already been approved on the pending LEED application for Fiserv Forum. … Buildings that achieve the Bird Collision Deterrence credit address the primary reasons that birds collide with buildings: reflective and see-through glass and lighting that disorients birds during their nocturnal spring and fall migrations. Wisconsin Humane Society will also work with the Bucks to monitor Fiserv Forum for collisions, following a plan designed in partnership with Bird City Wisconsin and ABC.”

“Hopefully the team’s message, that designing with birds in mind is an achievable goal, will set Fiserv Forum up as a model for arenas, stadiums and all other buildings for years to come,” Lenz said.

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