In 1998, the City of Milwaukee commissioned San Francisco artist Cork Marcheschi to create a sculpture for the façade of the Empire Building located along the RiverWalk between Wisconsin Avenue and Wells Street.
Marcheschi designed an installation called "Dream With The Fishes" – a school of fish, bubbles, waves and buoys – from aluminum, vinyl lenses, stainless steel and neon lighting that randomly faded on and off to create the illusion that the fish were swimming.
The neon lighting is, for the most part, no longer working, and so the Milwaukee Riverwalk District plans to restore the fish sculpture. Lemberg Electric in Milwaukee removed the sculpture this spring and will reinstall it after DesignLab Chicago replaces the lighting component.
The neon will be replaced with LED technology, which will ensure extended longevity and low energy consumption. New LED strips will provide a stronger visual dynamic and a programmable controller will fade the fish in and out of view, as well as vary the colors and tempos. The colors will be changed regularly to coordinate with special events and holidays.
The cost of the remodel is $130,000. The City of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee RiverWalk District support the project and are looking to property owners and organizations along the RiverWalk to contribute, too.