Milwaukee Design Awards range from revamped distillery to bus stops

Milwaukee projects ranging from a repurposed distillery to artistic bus stops are among the winners of this year’s Mayor’s Design Awards.

The annual awards recognize Milwaukee projects that contribute to the character of their surroundings, add value to their neighborhoods and contribute to the urban fabric.

This year’s program, now in its 25th year, has 25 awards. They will be presented at a ceremony May 18 at 5 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Planning, 2131 E. Hartford Ave.

The winners are divided into four categories: Spaces and Places, Test of Time, Neighborhood Renaissance and Vibrant Connections.

Spaces and places

According to the city’s Development Department, which oversees the allocation process.

Tiefenthaler Park Community Center, 2480 W. Cherry St. An expanded community center more than doubles the existing Kellogg PEAK Initiative facility with additional learning labs and outdoor spaces. Architect & Engineer: HGA. Contractor: CG Schmidt.

Franklin Square Playfield and North Division High School, 2643 N. 13th St. The renovated playground features new playground equipment, renovated basketball courts and an agility course. The adjacent North Division High School added green infrastructure and two outdoor classrooms. Architect: Zimmerman Architectural Studios. Contractor: Eddy Landscaping.

Visual Vibes on Villard, 3120 W.Villard Ave. and other locations. A public art project, commissioned by the Villard Avenue Business Improvement District, created several murals on the themes of health and wellness, conservation, neighborhood history, culture and community pride.

La Placita and Pandemic Memorial, 916 S. Chávez Drive. The La Placita gathering space features a sculpture by Cesar Chavez, benches and lighting. Led by La Familia de Arte, the Pandemic Memorial has 12 tiled bollards honoring the “everyday heroes of the pandemic” as well as the “fallecidos,” a loved one who was lost during the pandemic.

Brady Beach1668 N. Warren Ave. Nomad Pub and Club Brady worked together to close off a section of North Warren Avenue between their two taverns and create new outdoor seating named “Brady Beach”.

Northwest Mutual Community Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive. The new publicly accessible playground is located in Maier Festival Park. Architect: USA. Landscape Architect: RA Smith. Contractor: JCP Construction.

Painting the Near West Side, 3743 W.Vliet St. and other locations. Near West Side Partners Inc.’s initiative beautifies the neighborhood’s commercial corridors while showcasing the talent of local artists. Six murals have been installed in 2021 and two more are planned for this year.

Highway 41 Historic Bus Stops, South 27th Street/West Oklahoma Avenue and other locations. The Historic Highway 41 Business Association has worked with the Milwaukee County Transit System, elected officials, area businesses and local artist Ryan Laessig to create seven bus shelters that serve as works of art marking the promoting the trade corridor.

The test of time

These “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 preserve the city’s built environment and architectural heritage for future generations. “

Central Standard Craft Distillery, 320 E. Clybourn St. Central Standard has renovated a long-vacant 16,200 square foot building into an updated distillery, restaurant, bar, event space and rooftop terrace. Architect & Engineer: HGA.

37th Street School Apartments, 1715 N. 37th St.. The former schoolhouse in the Washington Park neighborhood has been transformed into affordable apartments for seniors. Developer: Community First. Contractor: Greenfire Management. Architect: Jeff Bone, Landon Bone Baker.

EagleKnit Innovation Hub507 S. Second St. Wangard Partners Inc. has transformed a large, historic Walker’s Point warehouse into the EagleKnit Innovation Hub – a four-story, 30,000-square-foot center of innovation-driven companies, start-ups and technological space.

Oriental Theater Revitalization, 2230 N. Farwell Ave. Remodeling of the historic theater by Milwaukee Film Inc. included new seating, improved acoustics and lighting, lobby renovations, and an expansion into an adjacent vacant storefront. Architect: TWKA. Contractor: Altius. Engineers: Pierce Engineers and Ring & DuChateau.

Milwaukee Soldiers Home, 515 N. Mitchell Blvd. Located on the grounds of the Zablocki VA Medical Center, this long-closed historic veterans housing has been renovated to create 101 apartments for veterans and their families facing homelessness. Architect: Ramlow/Stein Architects. Contractor: JP Cullen. Engineer: Pierce Engineers.

Renaissance district

“The following projects have added value to the city by providing new or improved options for neighborhood housing, or by adding or improving cultural, educational, or other community amenities that strengthen neighborhoods and improve quality of life residents.”

Westlawn Renaissance III, 5555 N. 62nd St. The 75-acre site where Wisconsin’s largest public housing estate once stood continues its evolution into a mixed-income community. The latest additions, Oak and Willow at Westlawn Gardens, added 94 new affordable apartments.

UCC Ricardo Diaz Early Learning Academy, 2130 W. Becher St. The United Community Center’s new learning academy, named for former leader Ricardo Diaz, serves as a center for child care, early childhood education, home care health and professional resources. Architect: JaKnetter Architects. Developer: VJS.

Hmong American Peace Academy, 4601 N. 84th St. After years of growing student enrollment, the Hmong American Peace Academy outgrew its original facilities and expanded its campus. Contractor: VJS Construction. Architect: Continuum Architects + Urban planners. Engineer: Ring & DuChateau.

Amani block by block, 2900 block from North 29th Street and other locations. The initiative takes a holistic, community-based approach to improving housing in the Amani neighborhood. It involves partnerships between neighborhood residents, community organizations and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation.

Aldrich Townhouses, 2100 block of South Aldrich Street. Aldrich townhouses incorporate a modern aesthetic in the historic Bay View neighborhood, creating new opportunities for home ownership and raising the bar for residential infill.

Thirteen31 Square Apartments, 1331 W. National Ave. Run by Rule Enterprises and Lutheran Social Services, this affordable housing development in Walker’s Point was once a tax-deficient brownfield. Architect: Arc-Int Architecture. Contractor: Catalyst Construction. Developer: Rule Enterprises.

Animated hallways

They “revitalize the city’s commercial corridors by building or restoring their properties in a pedestrian-friendly manner that activates the public realm, adds new housing or employment opportunities, and adds vibrancy and diversity to our commercial districts.

Schlitz Park, 1542 N. Second St. Crossroads Plaza at Schlitz Park connects previously separate buildings in a pedestrian-friendly campus with public gathering spaces. It features a mural reflecting the historic nature of the old brewery complex while looking to the future of Milwaukee. Architect: RINKA. Contractor: ADK Design.

On the Mill / Cream City Boxing, 5132 W. Mill Road. The former Broadway Baby dinner theater was converted by Kirby Lockett into Cream City Boxing Gymnasium and On The Mill sports bar.

UN OX Coffee7411 W. Hampton Ave. AN OX, operated by Sia and Johnni Xiong, serves comforting Asian cuisine and offers space for private events in the renovated building.

321 North Jefferson, 321 N. Jefferson St. This new seven-story, 60-unit building includes a WE Energies substation. This company has partnered with Joseph Property Development to develop the property in a way that adds vibrancy while providing the necessary utility infrastructure. Architect: RINKA.

Adams Garden Park, 1836 W. Fond du Lac Ave. Owners and developers Larry and Sharon Adams have repurposed a historic building into an office center for environmental groups. Adams Garden Park is adjacent to vacant land that will include stormwater catchment features, native plants, sculpted artwork and space for vendors.

The Avenue / 3rd Street Market Hall, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. The former Grand Avenue Mall is now The Avenue mixed-use development. It includes 3rd Street Market Hall, a dining and entertainment center that showcases local eateries. Architect: TKWA.

Tom Daykin can be emailed at and followed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Abdul J. Gaspar