Architect: Kahler Slater
Owner: Water Accelerator, LLC
Contractor: KBS & CD Smith
Originally built in 1904 as a box manufacturing facility, this historic landmark in the Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee has been carefully renovated into a contemporary seven-story office building with university lab space and business incubation suites. Designed to promote collaboration and attract new businesses addressing key local and global water-quality and policy issues, the redevelopment serves as a catalyst for the city’s Global Water Technology Business Park. On the exterior, concrete aggregate panels on the lower portion of the building were replaced with brick to match the rest of the façade and uplighting is used to highlight the building’s historic features. With heavy timber frame and historic details providing a rich backdrop, the original interior layout was modified by inserting a new core with stairs, elevators and facilities. On the elevated first floor, the lobby opens up into a central open gallery that doubles as a large gathering space and a public café encourages collaboration. The former loading dock has been transformed into an auditorium and shared conference room. Sustainable design features include a green roof that serves as a vegetated roofing research laboratory for UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences.
Jury Comment: “This adaptive reuse project was very successful in maintaining the integrity and power of a great old building. There are some great spaces inside. You can see how the flow of spaces and the open gallery on the first floor can activate the idea of collaboration and communication. The recladding of the exterior brick looks very good. A beat up and ugly building was brought back to life. This project had a nice coherent approach.”
Photos: Peter McCullough