Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Design Team Chosen For Bronzeville Arts Center

Partnership of M&E and HGA will design "world-class art and cultural center" on King Drive.

By - Jan 24th, 2023 02:17 pm
Conceptual, non-site-specific rendering of Bronzeville Center for the Arts. Rendering by Wilson & Ford Design Studios.

Conceptual, non-site-specific rendering of Bronzeville Center for the Arts. Rendering by Wilson & Ford Design Studios.

The Bronzeville Center for the Arts (BCA), a quickly growing Milwaukee nonprofit focused on showcasing African American art, is moving full-speed ahead on its proposal to redevelop the former Wisconsin Department Natural Resources site at the corner of N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and W. North Ave.

BCA won a competitive bidding process in 2022 to buy the site for $1.6 million and intends to develop a “world-class art and cultural center.”

The organization has conceptual plans to develop a 50,000-square-foot facility at the 3.4-acre site, including an auditorium and exhibition space, as well as a green space with a sculpture walk.

The complex, the nonprofit announced Tuesday, will be designed by Milwaukee-based M&E Architects+Engineers with support from HGA. Michael Emem‘s Emem Group will serve as BCA’s owner’s representative.

“BCA exists to increase our collective knowledge and engagement with African American art, art history and artists,” said Kristen D. Hardy, BCA board president, in a statement. “As a Black-led firm with deep roots in our community, M&E Architects+Engineers shares our vision and is the right partner to help us bring it to life.”

M&E is led by Isaac Menyoli. The firm is based out of the Westown neighborhood, with an office in the Steinmeyer Building, 205 W. Highland Ave. M&E was founded in 1989. The firm has worked on a number of health care, commercial and education projects and served as a consultant on several other projects.

“Without art, there is no culture,“ said Menyoli. “This is an incredible opportunity to help define the look and feel of an institution that will represent the African American arts community for generations. Coupled with an array of development projects underway in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood, this project will be both a tribute to the rich history of the neighborhood and an investment in its future.”

The larger HGA will provide design and technical support. Milwaukee-based, Black-owned Zoe Engineering will also provide support.

“Developing the design in partnership with M&E Architects+Engineers is an excellent opportunity to combine our unique skills and experience to create something remarkable,” said HGA’s Peter Cook.

“The vision for the BCA is to bring African American art and artists to the forefront of our collective knowledge,” said Emem, who was previously engaged on the project as the owner’s representative and helped hire the design and engineering team. “I believe we have the right team in place to do just that.”

The partners are expected to host a public input process to refine the project’s design, amenities and interior programming.

“The BCA’s destination arts museum will be an incredible addition to a revitalized Bronzeville,” said area alderwoman Milele A. Coggs. “Milwaukee’s Bronzeville is the place to be – from The New York Times to local and national investors. the world is taking notice and projects like BCA’s arts museum are the reason why.”

BCA is also moving forward on a gallery space, workshop and office space development at 507 W. North Ave. It will redevelop an existing, two-story building as office space and a one-story building as a gallery.

The BCA developments build on a number of other efforts underway in the area, including The Griot apartments (which houses America’s Black Holocaust Museum) and ThriveOn King development from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Greater Milwaukee Foundation. A number of other smaller projects are planned within the King Drive corridor.

Conceptual renderings of the proposed center were produced by Wilson & Ford Design Studios.

BCA would demolish the two-story, 33,995-square-foot office building at 2312 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. that was constructed in 1983. A portion of the existing structure was built in 1911 as a Neoclassical-style bank branch. The DNR vacated the building in 2021 as part of a relocation to the Menomonee Valley.

MLK and North Site

507 W. North Ave.

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3 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Design Team Chosen For Bronzeville Arts Center”

  1. keewaysservices says:

    Mayor has to go bold or go home .needs to cut deeper to avoid more fees on city residents. I suggest no raises for city employees most do not live in the city. Cut the funding for a temporary King library. There are three library available within 5 miles, Atkinson, Central and Center all need patrons.
    Cut more fees. where is the money ?because services are not improving. Hire more policemen and inspectors
    The constant increase in fees and taxes will force city residents on fixed income to leave.
    Source of revenue: charge patron a flat fee 10 to 20dollars a year to use library services, cut but security staff at the library .why do you need two security guards at all location.?
    Close Capitol Drive library. Collect fees from tenants who do not maintain property i e .garbage. Stop funding to consultants to assess problems and use the money to fix identified problems After the convention eliminates the Hop

  2. mkwagner says:

    There appears to be a common denominator to all of Keewaysservices recommendations; cut services and raise taxes on those with the fewest resources. Blame the tenants for the failure of absentee landlords to maintain their properties. Hire more and more cops to keep “those people” out of “our” neighborhoods. In other words, the same old racial discrimination that has characterized Milwaukee for decades.
    Here is what Keewayservices does not understand, the more we invest in marginalized neighborhoods the more those neighborhoods will be able to develop wealth producing entities. We simply cannot afford to continue neglecting our communities of color.

  3. Polaris says:

    It’s just so exciting to see what is happening in Bronzeville. Some great projects will be completed in the next couple years.

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