A One-of-a-Kind Hillside Design

Building the Exhibition Center into a Hill
The Fox Cities Exhibition Center (FCEC) is a one-of-a-kind building, not just in Appleton, but throughout the entire state of Wisconsin. Here’s a glimpse at some of this premier event/convention center.

The most unique feature is the way the FCEC structure is built. The exhibition center, with its concrete floor and ability to be divided into three separate spaces, is built into the side of a hill at Jones Park. This posed a unique challenge as crews had to remove 76,000 cubic yards of dirt. Despite the obstacles this removal presented, the architects at Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc., based in Milwaukee, wanted to allow for a rooftop plaza, shown in the rendering below. Upon completion, nearly 9,000 cubic feet of concrete was used to construct the project.


This was the first time Zimmerman had ever designed a building into a hill. For the construction crews at Miron Construction Co., Inc., who executed the design plans, building the exhibition center into the hill was challenging because much of the plaza deck had to be supported by two large plate girders that weigh 110,00 pounds (55 tons) each. They also had to drive more than 1,000 feet of sheet piling into the ground to hold back soil during excavation. The specialized design allows for a street-view from the building, as displayed in the rendering below.


Making the Event Venue Accessible to Jones Park
The FCEC building is accessible from the street and from Jones Park to allow for multiple uses and revenue potential. The newly renovated park includes a concert space and green area, and the open windows of the exhibition center provide a unique ambiance within the building.


Maximizing Versatility with Three Spaces
The design of the building itself allows for multiple uses. The FCEC space has a poured concrete floor, as well as three dividers. It can be used as one big event space or as three separate spaces. To one side of the main event venue is a pre-function space, shown below. Designed with higher-end finishes, this serves as an area people can use to relax during breaks from presentations or where vendors can set up exhibition booths. There are also two conference rooms, at street-level, available for event space rental.

Prefunction Space

Showcasing Appleton & the Fox Cities
The architect also wanted to incorporate the unique history of the Fox Cities and did so with concepts of paper, forests, rivers and the park worked into the overall layout of the exhibition center. You can see examples of these four concepts throughout the building. For example, the carpet in the pre-function event space has the slight appearance of logs, incorporating the paper and forest aspect.

One of the biggest nods to Appleton’s history is in the spire, shown below, that runs vertically through the entire building. The spire represents the smokestack that was a part of the first fully-operational power plant in the country. It’s 82 feet tall to correspond with 1882, the year that the power plant opened. The structure is also lit with color-changing LED lights that can be changed to accommodate a visiting organization or to celebrate a special event or holiday.

event venue

Lastly, 10 communities in the Fox Cities agreed to fund the Fox Cities Exhibition Center project via their hotel room tax. As a way of thanking the communities, pieces of art will be incorporated throughout the exhibition space to represent each community.

event venue
event venue
event venue