Milwaukee's MacArthur Square, in Pictures and Sound

Milwaukee's downtown features a parking garage with a park on the rooftop named MacArthur Square:

ARTHUR SQUARE carved in concrete

It takes it name from General MacArthur, of course, who's represented in bronze in the park. First we climb from street level to park level on the garage roof using the now-decaying spiral walk:

Spiral ramp

The park is surrounded by government buildings; the police headquarters, the county jail, and the county courthouse. The police building is an interesting example of architecture:

Milwaukee police headquarters, an odd structure

The big concrete fins remind me of cooling fins. It looks to me like a giant stereo amplifier, or like something you'd clamp onto your computer's CPU to keep it cool. Adding to the CPU-cooler resemblance is the loud fan noise from its HVAC system. The sound from the fountain

Fountain in
front of police building

does not completely drown out the fan noise.

The loudest part is yet to come. The park is on the roof of an underground parking garage, which needs powerful ventilation fans to keep the car exhaust levels low. These fans are very, very loud. Where are the park's benches placed? Right by the inlets, of course! Indeed, the entire park is one loud air handling system next to another. Peace is elusive. It is just the place to go if you are deaf, or in the process of becoming so by listening to very loud music. I have an audio recording made during a quick walk through the park. Listen (MP3 or Ogg Vorbis, a bit over a megabyte each) and follow along:

First the air outlet, near the edge, then on to the park benches:

and trees surround giant air inlet

Benches near giant air inlet

The noise is intolerable, so we'll move along:

Bench and
shrubbery near museum and huge air conditioner

What is that noise? Why, a huge air conditioning unit behind that shrubbery:

huge air

After leaving the noise of the park for the relative peace of major roads near a freeway ramp, I looked back and saw this typical example of American architecture: a building that looks like a CPU-cooler next to an older and perhaps generally nicer-looking structure marred by a huge HVAC cooling tower jutting from the roof:

building and ajacent structure with huge cooling tower on roof

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