Michael Horne

Mayor’s Design Awards All Over Map

Big, little, new or renovated, award winners in 13 of 15 aldermanic districts.

By - May 19th, 2017 03:26 pm
The Kubala Washatko Architects Urban Lab, 644 S. 5th St. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.

The Kubala Washatko Architects Urban Lab, 644 S. 5th St. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.

It will be an escutcheon on the legacy of Tom Barrett that he continued the tradition of the Mayor’s Design awards initiated by his predecessor John Norquist twenty years ago.

In fact, the mayor has embraced the annual citywide contest, which he hosted once again at the UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning on Thursday. As always, he was assisted by Robert Greenstreet, the dean of the school. Unlike in past years, the awards were presented in the atrium of the school, and not its auditorium. Greenstreet explained, “they’re using it for final exams.”

The over 100 attendees included folks from throughout the community. City Hall was represented by council members Jim Bohl and Nik Kovac, as well as Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban along with Greg Patin of the Department of City Development. Greenstreet had kind words for Patin, who he says “knows every inch of the city.” Thanks to Patin and other scouts, the awards were issued in 12 of the city’s 15 aldermanic districts.

The projects range from the very large ones we have seen lately, like the 155-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott, the Eleven25 at Pabst, the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel and the 18-story 833 East building. This genre is the preserve of the well-capitalized, professional developer.

Others celebrated placemaking, such as the Standing Rock Buffalo Topiaries, the Marcus DeBack Playground, Hartung Park and a public space at Garden Homes Park. “It’s not all about buildings,” Greenstreet noted. These projects had a significant component of neighborhood participation, and are expected to serve as a potential catalyst for further neighborhood development. Paul Williams and Warren Jones of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee were there to accept the award.

The Mayor’s Design Awards are “not all about new stuff,” Greenstreet noted, citing the Journey House Campus Housing and The Historic Wally Schmidt Redevelopment. These projects took overlooked and neglected structures and renovated them into neighborhood gems, which are also expected to serve as catalysts for further development.

It’s “not all about big buildings,” either, Greenstreet said. The King Lofts Bay View is a restoration and addition onto a 1930s auto dealership. A good example of the catholicity of the mayoral awards is the 1900 W. Morgan building, once a foreclosed property that has been turned economically and attractively into a private residence and work space in an unassuming neighborhood.

Of course, it is “not Milwaukee without … beer,” Greenstreet said, mentioning Black Husky Brewing of Riverwest and the Mobcraft Beer Brewery & Taproom in Walker’s Point.

One of the most intriguing buildings is 644 S. 5th St. It was a 1970s industrial building in an area that had been in considerable decline at the time. Now, with the widening of sidewalks and the narrowing of the street, the building has taken on new life as Fuel Cafe, the The Kubala Washatko Architects Urban Lab and Proximity Malt. The key to the building’s success was the removal of a couple of bays of the box-like structure, providing an attractive courtyard. Sometimes less is indeed more.

As the guests mingled and dined on delicacies including strawberries dressed in chocolate tuxedos, the talk turned to the future. The general consensus was that with the amount of construction going on in Milwaukee today, next year’s award event will be a monster. Barrett was right to continue this tradition. As the mayor has said, we have never in our lifetimes seen the level of development now underway in Milwaukee.

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.

  • Garden Homes Green Revitalization Project, 2600 W. Atkinson Ave.
  • Standing Rock Buffalo Topiaries, 6th & Waterford, 6th & Norwich
  • Marcus DeBack PlayGround, 2461 N. 55th St.
  • Hartung Park, 99th and Townsend

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.

  • Journey House Campus Housing, 2033 W. Scott St.
  • The Historic Wally Schmidt Redevelopment / Tandem Restaurant, 1850 W. Fond du Lac Ave.
  • 213 Broadway, 211-213 N. Broadway
  • Eleven25 at Pabst, 1125 N. 9th St.
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriot, 744 N. 4th St.

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.

  • King Lofts Bay View, 2534 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
  • 1900 W. Morgan, 1900 W. Morgan Ave.
  • Milwaukee TechForce Training Center, 1916 N. 4th St.
  • Black Husky Brewing, 909 E. Locust St.

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.

  • Sendik’s Food Market Corporate Offices, 7225 W. Marcia Rd.
  • 644 S. 5th St., 630-644 S. 5th St.
  • Traction Factory, 247 S. Water St.
  • Zurn Industries, 511 W. Freshwater Way
  • The Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, 310 E. Chicago St.
  • 833 East. 833 E. Michigan St.

Photos from the Event

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One thought on “Mayor’s Design Awards All Over Map”

  1. Dudemeister says:

    Hey, less is more! A Mieism in an UM article!

    Running on that theme, I am so very glad that 833 and the Zurn HQ got the “Design That Grabs You” award. Those are both welcome additions to the contemporary Modernism movement.

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