About Those Parapets, Mr. Renner
Peter Renner is a no-show, Third Ward board tut tuts his 10 tentative townhouses.
A no show by developer and architect Peter Renner meant not much could be done at yesterday’s meeting of the Third Ward Architecture Review Board. So the board tabled a proposed row of townhouses until responses can be provided to some of their design concerns.
Board members agreed the latest design proposal submitted by Renner and his firm, Renner Architects, had improved successively upon the previous two. Still, the proposed development of 10 townhouse condominiums at 610 E. Summerfest Place will need further clarification and response to some of the board’s concerns.
Most important to the board are the parapets and facade of the building.
The parapets were one facet of the design that improved with each round of review by the board, several said. But without Renner present at the meeting to comment on possible materials or hear suggestions, new ideas were moot.
Board members have suggested changes for the long, flat facade of the building. Notably, Jim Piwoni, an architect at American Design, Inc., has suggested breaking up the brick building with alternating copper cladding to add a slight step, but Renner’s response to that is unknown.
The building as currently designed is a long, three-story brick building. Downspouts between the units break up the façade slightly.
“I just think the massing of this thing is such a long, unending, unbroken massing,” said Matt Jarosz, board vice chair and a professor at UWM’s school of Architecture & Urban Design
The board was fine with a contemporary style building for the townhouses, but the developer told them he would have the most success marketing the building with a “pseudo-historic” look, Jarosz said.
The parapets serve to give the building a historic look, while the balconies add a modern touch to the structure.
“I’m trying to figure out what this building is supposed to be,” said Greg Patin, the board’s Department of Neighborhood Services’ designee and a strategic manager with the Milwaukee Department of City Development. He added that it seems like “it’s meant to look like a terminal building that was down there that was converted.”
Jarosz said the architect in him wants to make façade and parapet changes, but is worried the board is “just trying to nip around the edges” and will be “accused of being the author of an unsightly new building.”
“If this is what Peter wants to do, he’s gotta be the author of this thing.”
But the author was not there to respond.