Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

2021 Mayor’s Design Awards Announced

From big to small, the mayor picks 25 winners in 10 different aldermanic districts.

By - Jun 7th, 2021 02:33 pm
2021 Mayor's Design Awards winners. Images from Urban Milwaukee.

2021 Mayor’s Design Awards winners. Images from Urban Milwaukee.

The annual City of Milwaukee Mayor’s Design Awards were virtual for the second straight year, but the projects are no less real.

“At its core, these awards have always been about the future,” said Mayor Tom Barrett in a video broadcast from the Walnut Way Conservation Corp’s Innovations and Wellness Commons development. “This is about the fact that people are investing in our community because they believe in our community.”

A total of 25 projects won awards, covering 10 of the city’s 15 aldermanic districts. The projects range from very big, like the 25-story BMO Tower, to rather small, like the vacant-lot-turned-market Vliet Street Oasis.

Barrett noted that he would normally pride himself on having visited all of the projects before the awards were announced, but the pandemic altered that practice. The awards mark the 24th installment of a program started under Mayor John Norquist and continued by Barrett.

The mayor was joined by UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning interim dean Nancy Frank. She said the projects represent far more than economic capital; they represent social capital, intellectual capital and cultural capital.

Both Barrett and Frank pined for a 2022 return to the well-attended event at the architecture school’s building. Frank and the school also had an announcement to make: a new master of urban design program. “We are really excited about this new degree program,” she said.

The Department of City Development manages the awards program for the mayor. “I literally could not do this without them,” said Barrett.

The 2021 awards this year were divided into five categories: Filled-In, Spaces and Places, Small Gems, Test of Time, Design That Grabs You


The following projects exemplify urban infill by redeveloping challenging sites with new construction that repair critical gaps in the urban fabric while enhancing their neighborhoods and contributing to the character of their surroundings.

Spaces and Places

The following projects have found unique opportunities to contribute to the character of their neighborhoods by creating or enhancing streets and public spaces that engage the public, facilitate community gathering, and make the city a more beautiful and interesting place.

Small Gems

The following neighborhood scale projects have displayed design excellence by renovating small commercial buildings in a pedestrian friendly way and having an outsized impact on the quality of the urban environment.

Test of Time

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.

Design That Grabs You

The following projects have made exciting and important contributions to the urban environment by respecting the context of their surroundings while raising the bar for major development and contemporary architecture in the City of Milwaukee.

Editor’s note: If the information was available, we included the project architect or designer.

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