The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.
Press Release

Architecture Firm to Create UrbanLab in Support of Downtown Milwaukee Initiatives

UrbanLab to be led by TKWA architect and prominent urban Milwaukee advocate, Chris Socha.

By - Apr 23rd, 2015 05:00 am
Chris Socha. Photo courtesy of TKWA.

Chris Socha. Photo courtesy of TKWA.

Milwaukee, April, 23, 2015 – Today, the award-winning Cedarburg-based architecture firm, The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc. (TKWA) has announced the formation of TKWA UrbanLab, a new venture focused on supporting ongoing community efforts in making downtown Milwaukee a more vibrant urban center. Creating a new physical presence in the City will allow TKWA to provide an active voice in shaping the future of Milwaukee at a time of dynamic change and growth in the downtown.

TKWA UrbanLab will continue its ongoing collaboration with Creative Alliance Milwaukee to identify uses for the vacant 4th & Wisconsin site, which recently was named recipient of a $100,000 ‘Heart of the Community’ planning grant sponsored by Southwest Airlines and the Project for Public Spaces. One of only six cities nationally to receive this award, the ‘Heart of the Community’ grant seeks to support creative, cost-effective ways to re-imagine and activate important and underutilized public spaces. The 4th & Wisconsin site is an essential part of redevelopment of the greater Westown area and in creating vibrant, walkable connections to the proposed new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

Milwaukee Public Market. Photo courtesy of TKWA.

Milwaukee Public Market. Photo courtesy of TKWA.

In addition, TKWA UrbanLab will support ongoing planning and design efforts by the firm. TKWA has designed many of Milwaukee’s most well-known and loved places, including the Milwaukee Public Market, Urban Ecology Center, Iron Horse Hotel, Lakefront Brewery (expansion), Colectivo cafes, pedestrian bridges for Three Bridges Park in Menomonee Valley, as well as the Marquette University Zilber Hall and Campus Beautification Master Plan. TKWA also designed the proposed new Lakeshore State Park Visitor and Education Center to be built along the Milwaukee lakefront.

TKWA is currently scouting potential spaces within the City of Milwaukee to locate UrbanLab. TKWA will maintain its 25-person studio in Cedarbug.

The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc. (TKWA) embraces a design philosophy of Wholeness, where the built environment supports and enhances both human activity and natural living systems. The idea of placemaking is a natural extension of wholeness-based thinking and is integrated into every studio project.

TKWA has been the recipient of two national American Institute of Architects COTE Top Ten Green Projects Awards, one of only a few firms in the country recognized with multiple awards (2007 – Leopold Legacy Center; 2011- First Unitarian Society Meeting House Addition). In 2011 TKWA received the national ‘Wright Spirit’ Award from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy for its design of a highly sustainable addition to the Frank Lloyd Wight National Historic Landmark First Unitarian Society Meeting House Addition in Madison, Wisconsin.

TKWA design services include urban design and master planning, architecture, interior design, historic preservation/adaptive re-use, interpretive planning, and sustainability certification. Representative project types include cultural creative communities, multi-use living environments, museums, nature and cultural/interpretive centers, hospitality and recreation venues, urban farm facilities, learning environments, maker/manufacturing spaces, performing arts centers, offices, libraries, and religious institutions. Current TKWA projects are located throughout the United States, in Costa Rica and China.

Recent Press Releases by The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.

Wisconsin Architecture Firm Selected for Second Major Chinese Education Design Project

TKWA's selection to design the new Xiang Lake Academy follows successful completion in 2015 of the TKWA-designed Zhongguancun No. 3 Elementary School.

The Kubala Washatko Architects becomes Wisconsin’s first ‘Public Benefit’ Design Firm

A benefit corporation is a for-profit company that focuses on making a positive impact on society.

4 thoughts on “Architecture Firm to Create UrbanLab in Support of Downtown Milwaukee Initiatives”

  1. The REV says:

    Interesting thet a Cedarburg firm is concerned with urban Milwaukee, sounds like marketing adventure and less sincerity.

  2. Juli Kaufmann says:

    Congrats TKWA! I actually read the post… where all of your existing commitments to urban Milwaukee are highlighted. I appreciate the sincere effort you have already made to make Milwaukee a great place. I personally find great joy at places like the Public Market, multiple Colectivo locations, and the Urban Ecology Center. You really do make places that make Milwaukee. Your visions for Lakeshore State Park and 4th and Wisconsin are also inspiring. I also love the bike parking corral you highlight in the picture with this post. Beyond design, I’ve appreciated your advocacy for making Milwaukee more accessible to alternative transportation and especially for helping lead the effort to bring bike parking options to Milwaukee. Your concern for Milwaukee matters. I also think creating a physical presence for your offices in the city matters too. I look forward to learning more about where you will land – and hope your offices themselves will be a place of contribution to Milwaukee- both with the space and the ideas you will generate. Good luck on these new adventures and this great news.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    This is fantastic! It’s great to learn the source of design and intention behind so many of my favorite places. Thank you for your commitment to MKE and the beautiful work you do!

  4. Marie says:

    We need this kind of expertise and it’s a great way to keep broadening the scope of all the great work TKWA has been doing in MKE! These folks completely get the picture about livable spaces (and have designed many of my favorite retail and nonprofit spaces). Keep promoting that vision and building momentum through street improvements, public spaces and overall urban planning.

    This will surely help to ramp up Milwaukee’s resurgence, with a holistic, people-centered approach. Congrats!

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