Location: Milwaukee, WI
Program: In February of 2015, AIA Milwaukee announced the Emerging Professionals Design Competition which focused on a long vacant building and lot in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee on the Riverwalk. The competition objectives included parking, riverwalk access, mixed use, and branding.
A team from GCA responded with:
This mixed-use project takes its name from the original moniker of Wells Street. Originally known as Oneida Street, the thoroughfare was named after one of the five founding nations of the Iroquois. Oneida, which means “People of the Standing Stone”, was given to the tribe for their ability to blend into the woodlands when being pursued by their enemies. Legends were told of how the Oneida could shape shift into stones in order to blend in with their surroundings.
This spirit of blending was a key inspiration in the origination of this architectural composition. By retaining the existing original two-story historic structure, and adjusting the residential tower, the new building weaves itself into the existing fabric of dense downtown Milwaukee. The project seeks to both provide new residential space, but also to repair the connections between the city and the riverwalk that are broken or inconsistent in their current condition.
Down at the level of the riverwalk, the creation of a small pocket park would see the unification of the alleyway pedestrian traffic with the riverwalk pedestrian traffic. Providing this pathway would acknowledge and respond to an existing pattern of use that involves squeezing oneself between the fence and the City Hall Square apartment building. It would create a cohesive and unifying design in an area, which is currently only an urban remnant.
The lower two floors of the project would be a “twenty hour tavern”. Offering brunches, lunches, dinners, and late night drinks, the restaurant would attempt to stretch the useful day of the site so that it can remain a center of activity throughout the day. Catering to business clients during the week and residential clients on the weekends, the first two floors would become a living room for the city.
The upper floors (3-6) would be a series of high-end luxury apartments. By capturing the iconic views from the site, these units would garner a significantly higher rent. This increase in revenue would help to offset the higher than average construction costs of developing a new building in such a constrained and urban site. With spacious interiors, unparalleled views, and abundant light streaming in from the windows facing the river, these units would be a tranquil retreat in the heart of the city.
The GCA entry won First Place in the design competition.
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