Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Mayor’s Design Awards

The 2016 Mayor's Design Awards recognized projects from every corner of the city.

By - May 26th, 2016 06:12 pm
Milwaukee Art Museum addition. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Milwaukee Art Museum addition. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

For the past 19 years, the staffs of the Mayor of Milwaukee and the Dean of the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning have selected what often turns out to be a rainy day in May to present the Mayor’s Design Awards in a ceremony held at the school.

The tradition was upheld in all its particulars Wednesday, May 25th, when hundreds of stakeholders convened in the atrium of the school for a reception. The event, catered by the university, included cheeses, crudites, rolled up foodstuffs and berries-on-a-stick. Once sated, the guests relocated to the building’s auditorium, which they filled to capacity, for a brief ceremony during which the catering staff loaded up the banquet tables with more food for the post-ceremony reception. Tradition is a lovely thing, and a university provides a lovely setting in which to uphold it.

The attendees would not have to wait long after the speechifying to return to the feast, thanks to host and emcee Robert Greenstreet, the dean of the school. Greenstreet makes his annual presentation as stripped down and sleek as a Miesian skyscraper. He advised the awardees, who numbered about half the audience, that if they were particularly inspired to give a speech of acceptance, it should be delivered to their spouses, where it would be perhaps more likely to receive the attention it was due.

Of course, the event is the Mayor’s Design Awards, and not the SARUP Dean’s List, so Tom Barrett was accorded a moment on the podium to deliver a few remarks and set the general tone for the evening. He had two other events remaining for the evening, he said, but would remain until the last certificate was handed out.

The mayor explained that the idea of an annual Mayor’s Design Awards recognition was inherited from the previous administration, where it originated during the term of John Norquist, a celebrated urbanist.

Barrett resolved to continue the honors. In the first years of his administration, he said, he was wary when most nominations came from a few areas of the city. He urged that designs throughout the city, great and small, be included on the list.

Now, for its 19th iteration, the winning list needed little if any tweaking, he said, and winners represented most of the 15 Aldermanic Districts in the city. The breadth of selections was organic, and represents an ever-changing city on the upswing, he said. Although the city has real and serious problems that receive considerable attention, there is much growth underway throughout the city, he said.

A quick scan of the winners shows that this was the case. The 22 winners were spread among 10 of the city’s 15 aldermanic districts — even the 8th district, the seat of Barrett’s former mayoral opponent Bob Donovan, received a mention, for the Journey House Campus Housing, 741 S. 23rd St.

Donovan was not at the event, but aldermen Jose Perez (12th), Nik Kovac (3rd) and Terry Witkowski (13th) appeared for the event.

The mayor said he was heartened by the community aspect of the competition, and how it reveals the many facets of the city.

This was reflected in the event and by its attendees, which ranged from big name architects (Allen Washatko, Jim Shields and Chris Socha), to city officials, developers, contractors, university staff and others, most notably the winners and in many cases their families. One winner was represented by a cardboard cut-out, due to being out of the country.

Jeff Fleming of the Mayor’s office made an observation about community organizer Sharon Adams, who was there with Jeremy Davis.

“Sharon Adams of Walnut Way was there to receive the award for Innovation & Wellness Commons – One unusual aspect of that award is that the Mayor nominated the project. That’s a first for Mayor Barrett,” Fleming wrote in an e-mail.

The Presentation

After the mayor’s remarks, Dean Greenstreet made his presentation, offering concise and often pithy remarks about the winners and the state of affairs in his realm.

After years of recession, things are looking good for graduates of Wisconsin’s only school of architecture, he said. Over 70 firms attended a job fair at the school offering to hire recent graduates, Greenstreet added, to applause from the attendees. There is plenty of work out there for his graduates, and for the first time in memory, “there are cranes on the horizon,” the Dean exulted.

Some of the winners, and the Dean’s remarks:

  • Riverside Theatre Marquee, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave. “lights up and engages people”
  • Cafe Corazon Patio, 3129 N. Bremen St. “highlights little fractions of the neighborhood … enlivens pedestrian experience”
  • Yellow Chair Project, Thurston Woods neighborhood “simple idea … powerful”
  • Tippecanoe Library, 3912 S. Howell Ave. “building reaches out to the public”
  • Meraki restaurant, 939 S. 2nd St. “small project, but a real gem”

Perhaps the most significant of the Dean’s comments, and worth considering during this time of state mandated university system budget cuts, is a remark he made in passing while discussing the Sojourner Family Peace Center at 619 W. Wanut St., designed by Zimmerman Architectural Studios. This project, a unique collaboration to bring social service and government agencies together under one roof had something in common with most of the other winners.

According to Dean Greenstreet, “virtually every project had a UWM connection.”

Spaces and Places Award Winners

The following projects have found unique opportunities to contribute to the character of their neighborhoods and have made their streets and public spaces more attractive by engaging the public, utilizing existing infrastructure, and creating meaningful community spaces for all to enjoy.

  • Riverside Theater Marquee, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave. – Pabst Theater Group
  • Café Corazon Patio, 3129 N. Bremen St. – Wendy Mireles, Café Corazon, Marek Landscaping
  • Moody Park, 2200 W. Burleigh St.
  • Neighborhood House of Milwaukee Garden Park, corner of W. 27th St. and W. Richardson Pl.
  • Compassion Sculpture-Sherman Park, 60th and Burleigh – Sherman Park Community Association, Marina Lee, Ann Wydeven, Sherman Park Collective Biking Committee, Norwood Neighborhood, Department of Public Works
  • Yellow Chair Project, Thurston Woods Neighborhood – Karen Mierow (Agape Center)

Test of Time Award Winners

The following projects have added value to the city by restoring their properties in a way that enhances the character of their neighborhoods and reinforces the traditional neighborhood fabric. These projects will help to preserve the city’s built environment and architectural legacy for future generations.

Live. Work. Play Award Winners

The following projects have made extraordinary contributions to the urban mixed-use environment by sensitively integrating different land uses within their neighborhoods while displaying excellence in design that is cohesive to their surroundings.

Design That Grabs You Award Winners

The following projects have added value to the City by displaying design excellence while respecting the urban fabric and contributing to the character of their surroundings.

  • Meraki, 939 S. 2nd St. – Meraki Restaurant, City Place Studio LLC
  • Century City I & Monument Sign, 3945 N. 31st St. – Century City 1 LLC, Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, General Capital Group, GRAEF, Poblocki Sign Co., American Design, Berghammer Construction, Northtrack Construction, Perspective Design, Sigma Group, Zimmerman Architectural Studios
  • Milwaukee World Festival Inc. Administration Building, 639 E. Polk St.
  • Milwaukee Art Museum Addition, 700 N. Art Museum Dr. – Milwaukee Art Musuem, HGA Architects and Engineers, Hunzinger Construction Company
  • General Mitchell Airport Baggage Claim Building, 5300 S. Howell Ave. – General Mitchell International Airport

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One thought on “Plenty of Horne: Mayor’s Design Awards”

  1. dudemeister says:

    Love the Mies reference (of course). Greentree is quite a charismatic individual. Had the great pleasure of taking his intro to architecture class way back. Perfect person to present such awards.

    If only the UWM campus could get a few of these new projects. Anyone know what happened to that center for entrepreneurship that Lubar wanted to build?

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