Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

2020 Mayor’s Design Awards Announced

23rd annual awards program goes virtual, but still finds 31 winners across the city.

By - Jan 5th, 2021 10:13 am
2020 Mayor's Design Awards winners. Images from City of Milwaukee.

2020 Mayor’s Design Awards winners. Images from City of Milwaukee.

The annual City of Milwaukee Mayor’s Design Awards ceremony looked a bit different in 2020. What is normally a well-attended May event at UW-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning became a late fall virtual affair due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of City Development announced the awards over the course of a week on social media instead of hosting an in-person gathering. The awards, given to projects big and small, mark the 23rd installment of a program started under Mayor John Norquist and continued under Mayor Tom Barrett.

“Design matters in cities because it is all around us. It shapes the streets and public spaces we enjoy, the neighborhoods where we live, and the ways we interact with each other,” said Barrett in announcing the 2020 awards. “Our streets and urban spaces, and the built environment that shapes them, belong to everyone.  These award winning projects demonstrate respect for all Milwaukee residents.”

The awards this year were broken into six categories: Art + Space, Play Green, Old + New, Local Gems, Raise the Bar and Design Champion.

Art + Space

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 reclaiming underused spaces engaging the public, utilizing existing infrastructure, or enhancing educational opportunities

Play Green

The following projects have demonstrated a commitment to environmental sustainability and to enhancing the quality of life in their surrounding neighborhood through the transformation of deteriorating playgrounds. The project helps connect children to greenspaces through pavement removal, green infrastructure improvements, and other educational and recreational improvements.

Old + New

The following projects have added value to the city by restoring or reusing their properties in a way that preserves and 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.

Local Gems

The following projects have made extraordinary contributions to the urban mixed-use environment by renovating properties for small local businesses within their neighborhoods, all while displaying excellence in design that is cohesive to their surroundings.

Raise the Bar

The following projects have added value to the City of Milwaukee by displaying design excellence and respecting and contributing to the urban fabric and the character of their surroundings while raising the bar for major development and contemporary architecture in the City.

Design Champion

The design champion award marks the first time the city has given an award to a person instead of a project.

The new award went posthumously to Whitney Gould. A reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for over 20 years, Gould, 76, passed away in December 2019. She ended her term with the newspaper as the architecture critic and became the most outspoken member of the City Plan Commission during her retirement.

“Whitney Gould was never shy about sharing her thoughts, and she influenced many great architectural works around Milwaukee including the Calatrava pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the new Discovery World,” said the city in announcing the award.

Editor’s note: If the information was available, we included the project architect and developer (if separate from the business name).

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: 2020 Mayor’s Design Awards Announced”

  1. Virginia Small says:

    Whitney Gould wrote extensively about landscape architecture, public spaces and consevation, as much as she did about buildings. For years she urged the City of Milwaukee to hire a landscape architect in the Department of City Development. She spoke often about that need in the last year or so of her life. As much as Whitney appreciated the work of urban planners at the City, she believed it would be of great service for the City to have one or more landscape architects weighing in on a daily basis. Let’s hope this vision for Milwaukee is soon fulfilled–for the greater good.

    Whitney wrote a series about how the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted helped to shape Milwaukee in the late 1800s, and wanted that attention to our shared public landscapes to continue.

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