Westlawn Gardens Revitalization

Milwaukee, WI
The award-winning Westlawn Gardens is a new neighborhood at the cutting edge of urban development.

Originally containing more than 700 public housing units on a sprawling 74-acre site seven miles from downtown Milwaukee, Westlawn had reached the end of its lifetime by early 2000. The deteriorating condition of the large development prompted the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) to make the bold decision to update the site in its entirety. With a successful track record, transforming their communities into mixed-income neighborhoods, HACM leveraged the funds for Westlawn’s redevelopment through state tax credits, for which they received the largest award in state history. Their revitalization vision had three goals for the residents: community, sustainability, and healthy living. The latter goal was an acknowledgement of the high incidence of lung ailments of the community, a consequence in park of Milwaukee’s tough winters and poor indoor air quality.

The project site, surrounded by vacant lots and a suburban strip mall, lacked a powerful context. With the prompting of the executive director of HACM, we responded with a broad spectrum of languages, including a modernist vocabulary for the apartment buildings on the site’s major street, which we thought would help to create a sense of place. We designed the low-rise buildings in a range of traditional styles, including Midwestern barn-influenced language of minimal aesthetics, vertical banding, and front-facing gables. Prioritizing sustainability and sensitivity to healthy living throughout our planning and implementation of the project helped it to receive, upon its completion, the highest rating of any LEED Neighborhood Development project in the country. Car-charging stations, a community garden where local teens started a small business growing and selling fresh produce, and units with good insulation and ventilation were all part of the mix.

Project Web Site
project data

215 apartment and flex units

650 family housing types

10,000 sf pharmacy

13,000 sf maintenance/ management building

12,500 sf of commercial/ incubator retail space

neighborhood center

community gardens

Sustainable design elements:

Certified LEED-ND Silver

Certified LEED for Homes Platinum

Enterprise Green Community Design

renewable energy - geothermal, solar hot water

Architectural Design
Bidding Administration
Code Analysis
Community / Stakeholder Meetings
Conceptual Architectural Design
Consensus Building Process
Construction Administration
Feasibility / Yield Analysis
Master Planning
Rendering / Models / Videos
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