How Urban are Marquette, MIAD, MSOE, and UWM?
Milwaukee is lucky to have a number of higher education institutions in its most urban neighborhoods. The four most premiere institutions are Marquette in Avenues West, MIAD in the Historic Third Ward, MSOE in East Town, and UWM on the Upper East Side. The schools vary drastically in size, but each help define the neighborhood they occupy. Despite any criticism that might be leveled against them, they each have made significant investments in the City of Milwaukee. They each generate a sizable amount of pedestrian traffic that makes the neighborhoods they call home more vibrant. Each in their own way, serve as key drivers in making Milwaukee an engaging and dynamic city. But as their respective students know, what matters at the end of the day is the grade you get. Given the resources available to each school, the question is how well are they contributing to the neighborhoods they occupy and Milwaukee’s urban core?
Location: Avenues West, west of downtown.
Students: 8,012 (undergraduates), 3,587 (postgraduates)
Affect on Neighborhood: Marquette defines Avenues West. In addition to the buildings themselves, there are signs visible every which way you look, as well as students.
Recent Projects: The school has recently opened a new home for the Law School in Ray and Kay Eckstein Hall. The $85 million building is highly visible from the adjacent Marquette Interchange. Journal Sentinel art and architecture critic Mary Louise Schumacher details some of the challenges with the site. Under construction along Wisconsin Avenue, thanks to a $25 million anonymous donation, is the Discovery Learning Complex. The $35 million building will be five-stories tall and include 115,000 square feet of space for the College of Engineering.
On the Horizon: Marquette is working to enhance their existing investment in the Valley Fields athletic complex in the Menomonee Valley, a development that the school could have just as easily placed in a suburb. The school is planning to invest $1.2 million to add a 3,000 square-foot facility that includes dressing rooms for teams and officials, medical treatment areas, as well as public restrooms.
Grade: A. Marquette could have ran from Milwaukee like Concordia, but instead of fleeing they kept investing in their campus, and as a result have a great urban campus that keeps getting better.
Milwaukee Institute Art and Design
Location: Historic Third Ward
Affect on Neighborhood: Today MIAD has a minimal affect on the built environment of the Third Ward, though it does play a key role in the area’s art scene. Unlike Marquette and UWM, you can miss it as the college doesn’t possess a lot of public signage, with the exception of recently added sign on the school. It’s minimal affect also has a lot to do with how much else is going on in the Third Ward. If you placed it in the neighborhoods that the other schools call home, it would certainly have a much bigger impact.
On the Horizon: The college is seeking to build a new 250 bed residence hall. An RFP was issued and General Capital’s property was selected at 252 E. Menomonee Street . The school must now raise the funds to complete the residence hall.
Grade: B. MIAD students inject life into the neighborhood, without the town versus gown debate that makes UWM neighbors pack public meetings, and helped spur the art scene. At the same time the school hasn’t actually broke ground on the new residence hall yet. As the school continues to expand and improve its facility, increased visibility will follow.
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Location: East Town
Students: 2,438 (undergraduates), 210 (postgraduates)
Affect on Neighborhood: MSOE defines area around the few blocks it occupies, but with the exception of a couple way-finding signs you could miss it if you passed the campus only a block or two away.
Recent Projects: MSOE has added two new facilities to their campus in the past six years. The Kern Center, a large athletic and wellness facility paid for by Robert and Patricia Kern which is one of the few developments to actually happen in the Park East corridor. More recently the university opened the Grohmann Museum to house the General Studies Department and Man at Wok art collection. The rehabilitated building was paid for by Eckhart Grohmann, and operational costs are covered by revenue from the adjacent building, which Grohmann also owns. The buildings act as bookends for the campus along Broadway.
On the Horizon: Recently the school has proposed building a 500-stall parking garage in the Park East land immediately north of the Kern Center (to be funded by the Kern’s). The catch? A soccer field on top of the garage. The facility won’t be an architectural marvel, but being built into the hillside should help hide the garage (similar to how Juneau Village Towers and Yankee Hill Apartments work).
Grade: B-. MSOE has added two urban buildings since 2004, both of which help better define the campus and add to the attractiveness of the neighborhood. Unfortunately the university still possess a number of large surface parking lots on some of Milwaukee’s most valuable, and otherwise well developed, land. The proposed Park East parking garage should give the school flexibility to reduce or develop their parking lots into better assets for school and city.
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Location: Upper East Side
Students: 25,239 (undergraduates), 5,216 (postgraduates)
Affect on Neighborhood: UWM currently dominates the Upper East Side, although much of that effect is achieved by the large amount of off-campus housing in the form of duplexes. The campus itself is well contained with a couple block area. You get the feeling you’re on a college campus many blocks from the school itself though as large numbers of students can be seen walking to and from class.
Recent Projects: The university, through the UWM Real Estate Foundation, has recently added three facilities along North Avenue, all of which include a sizable student housing component. The first UWM development in the North Avenue corridor was the Kenilworth Square Apartments, which includes apartments that can house approximately 330 students as well as street-level retail. The east side of the facility also includes facilities for the Peck School of the Arts. RiverView Residence Hall opened in January 2008 and is located along the Milwaukee River just off North Avenue in Riverwest it includes space for approximately 475 students. Most recently, the school opened the Cambridge Commons residence hall which includes space for up to 700 students and is expected to be LEED Gold certified.
On the Horizon: The university has plans to build three satellite campuses to house graduate-level schools. A School of Public Health is planned for the former Pabst Brewery on the northwest corner of downtown, thanks to a donation from the late Joseph Zilber. The university plans to expand upon their Freshwater Research Institute to build a new facility for the School of Freshwater Sciences. The water school was originally proposed for the lakefront, but plans for that location were ultimately dropped. The latest plan has split facilities between a Reed Street Yards site and the Great Lakes Research Facility on Greenfield Ave. Their most controversial plan is the one already underway, the construction of a new engineering school on the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa. While we applaud the school’s efforts to build a new engineering school, we’ve written extensively that the location and proposed development style are misguided.
Grade: B. The university has a contract with Milwaukee County to purchase suburban land and develop it in a suburban fashion. That alone wouldn’t be so egregious, but as the school continues to invest in all kinds of “green” and urban developments across the city, the Engineering School in western Wauwatosa appears to be even more of a paradox. If the university follows through on plans to build the suburban engineering campus, it’s easy to believe that future grades on the schools urban qualities would be lower. On the upside, the school’s new residence halls have been successful in reducing pressure on non-student neighbors by reducing the number of students living in off-campus housing. They also, thanks to their good urban design, are part of what continues to make North Avenue vibrant. The Public Health and Freshwater Sciences Schools are certain to be assets to the city when they’re completed.