Location: West Allis, WI
Status: Summer 2018
Size: 5,000 sq. ft.
Located in GCA founder Joe Galbraith’s hometown of West Allis, this project offers a story of renewal and growth. The building, located at the corner of 88th and Becher Street has survived multiple renovations, owners, and uses. When Magellan Promotions President, Michael Wolaver was searching for a new home for his growing business he was intrigued by the opportunities that existing in the solid building stock that West Allis had to offer. The building that he identified had what architects like to say are solid bones. It is a simple masonry rectangle with a roof that didn’t leak and a solid concrete floor. The opportunities for the interior reconfiguration and the simplicity of the construction gave our design team a wide-open canvas to create a new home for Magellan Promotions growing staff. Magellan embraced an open concept floor plan and did not want any private offices.
A gesture that seems simple on its face of creating one big room was carefully considered by the design team to avoid a monotonous and uninspiring space. First and foremost existing window openings that had been concealed for years were uncovered and expanded to bring daylight into the center of the building. A central gathering table with a wooden ceiling was created to act as a nucleus to the space, while the walls along the edge provided visual interest with a simple trim detail and color change. A glass-walled conference room gives Magellan staff a private space to meet in while staying visually connected to the rest of the office. The break room located toward the rear of the space offers staff a subtle change in lighting and the warmth of maple cabinets in a space that becomes more casual and welcoming.
While the main façade of the building remained largely unchanged, the two sides were opened up to reveal the expanded windows, which creates a much more street friendly appearance. Going from blank walls to varied surfaces and apertures reveals the life of a thriving business within. And so this flexible, enduring structure lives another life in a city that is growing more comfortable embracing their former industrial grittiness while welcoming in new businesses that bring renewed energy and life.