Architect: Kahler Slater
Owner: Chicago Street Holdings, LLC
Contractor: CD Smith
The Kimpton Journeyman hotel is the boutique chain’s first entry into the Milwaukee market and the first hotel in Milwaukee’s bustling Historic Third Ward neighborhood. The project was conceived by a local real estate development firm who partnered with Kimpton to create a unique property.
The corner site, at 0.38 acres, had been vacant and used as a surface parking lot for more than twenty years. The 158-key hotel fills the entire footprint and has activated both the block and neighborhood. The program includes a basement level with back-of-house spaces, mechanical, and valet parking spaces. The first floor is dedicated to lobby and lounge space, a destination bar and restaurant, and back-of-house spaces. The 2nd floor contains guestrooms, a fitness center, and meeting and ballroom space. The 3rd through 8th floors are configured in an L-shape to front both streets, providing guests both street and courtyard views. The 9th floor steps back from the primary massing and houses a bar with access to year-round outdoor roof deck space.
The Third Ward is a local and national historic district with strict design guidelines to reinforce the neighborhood’s traditional architecture. The design guidelines are in place so that any new architecture seamlessly blends in with the historic fabric, including regulating lines, massing, height and proportion. An exhaustive analysis and design process yielded a building which fits perfectly within the context, yet has its own personality and character.
The exterior design strategy created a 2-story stone clad base with vertically proportioned window openings, awnings, painted steel brackets with integrated lighting, and a canopy to mark the main hotel entry. The typical guestroom floors are clad in a modular smooth ironspot brick selected to blend in with the neighborhood palette. The guest room floor plans were modulated to create a historic rhythm of window openings and façade depth to emphasize corner and end bays. Full brick returns and cast stone lintels were detailed such that the texture and depth of the façade was consistent with the buildings built in a different manner a century earlier.
The top floor was pulled back from the street edge and clad largely in metal panels and layered with dense hardwood slats. This strategy allowed the rooftop bar and penthouse to feel like a contemporary addition to an older warehouse building, similar to others found in the neighborhood. An exposed steel structural trellis provides shading and an armature for speakers, lighting and glass canopies. The trellis helps define different rooftop zones, shading, and from the street beckons patrons upstairs. The edge of the building is softened by built seating which backs up to plantings and a glass railing which doubles as a windbreak. The terrace faces south and west, captures great city and lake views, and its season is extended by the addition of firepits and hotel provided blankets.
The Kimpton Journeyman is expertly designed to fit in with the historic neighborhood through massing, proportion, materials and detail. It straddles the historic architecture of its context and is firmly rooted in the present.
Interior design (FF&E) was handled by another firm and not part of the base building design.
Photos: Whit Preston