The architect of Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes, Donald Grieb, has passed away at age 99. Most of Grieb’s other high-profile commissions in Milwaukee, including the Milwaukee County Courthouse Annex and Union Station, have been demolished, leaving the Domes to carry his legacy of daring Midcentury Modern design into the next generation.
In a 2016 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interview, Grieb's son, Donald Grieb Jr., said of his father's design: "He woke up at 4 a.m. and it just kind of burst into his head. I remember him making models out of toothpicks and balsa wood at home."
Greib won an international design competition for the right to design the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory in 1958. In addition to their stunning architectural features, the Domes are marvels of modern engineering, featuring the world’s first “conoidal”—or cone-shaped—domes. They are the world’s first glass conoidal domes, and remain the only glass conoidal domes in the world being used as conservatories. Grieb’s groundbreaking “Dome Building Construction” method received a patent in 1965.
The Save Our Domes Coalition continues to advocate for the rehabilitation and reuse of all three Domes as a community resource, with programming and sustainable financial operations.