Architect: Madisen Maher Architects
Owner and Contractor: River Place Lofts
The project is located on an industrial site in the Walker’s Point neighborhood nestled between the 6th Street Viaduct on the east, a major rail line on the south, and the South Menomonee Canal on the north. Preparing the site for construction required removing/relocating various underground utilities, regrading, constructing a retention pond, and 95 parking spaces.
River Place Lofts – The Historic Beam House - represented a unique opportunity to bring four connected 1870’s-era cream city brick industrial buildings back to life. Design challenges included overcoming non-aligning floors, a variety of structural systems, and repair of damage caused by a major fire in 2005.
The design solution highlights the cream city brick, exposed wood columns and wood beams, arched-top windows and other historic industrial elements of the building. The design of the common circulation creates a complex, yet efficient, method of connecting the different levels while accommodating accessibility. The building was transformed into 64 distinctive loft apartment units that take advantage of the buildings’ aesthetics and city views. Each unit features one or two bedrooms ranging in size from 750 to1570 sq. ft.
The design solved the complex challenges by first creating a circulation system that efficiently connects each level and provides accessibility. Individual apartment units were designed with equal emphasis on creating a livable plan and maximizing views of surrounding features. Innovative code solutions achieved required fire separations while maintaining exposed structure mandated by National Park Service as a condition of receiving historic building tax credits. Wherever possible, existing building elements including brick arches, columns, beams, rolling fire doors, and floor structure were left exposed. New exterior design elements including the steel and wood entry canopy complement the existing building architecture without creating a false sense of history. A ramp and stairs provide inviting access to a sunken entry plaza. Throughout the design process, careful attention was given to balancing the design challenges to achieve a coherent project that transforms a long vacant building into its highest and best use.
Procuring Historic Tax Credits required strict preservation of many of the original building elements including floors, walls, columns, beams, and rolling fire doors.
Finishes were selected to complement the industrial feel of the project, make the apartments desirable in a competitive market, and maintain the project budget.
Photos: Jim Moy Photography