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McKinley and Water from Water Street

McKinley and Water

Milwaukee, WI

FROM THE PRA ARCHIVES OF UNBUILT WORK

Plunkett Raysich is often approached by developers looking for a design partner to help them create a conceptual design for a site.  The images we produce are then used to attract tenants and investors, to explain the project to the local authorities, or in this case, to attempt to purchase the property.  They are highly speculative, and very often do not proceed.

This project was to be located at a still empty parcel on the north end of downtown Milwaukee along the Milwaukee River.  The site is characterized by its proximity to the Water Street entertainment district, its very unusual triangular shape, and the unique bend at the west end of Knapp Street.  It was also located in the City of Milwaukee Park East Redevelopment District, which dictated that a “landmark” building be created at the west end of Knapp Street.

The program called for a mixed-use development buildable in phases.  Phase One was to include a five story Aloft Hotel, while Phase Two would add a twenty-story luxury apartment building and a 500-car parking ramp to serve the whole development.  Phase Three was to add an eleven-story office building.  Only the hotel and the residential tower were designed to be seen in the renderings.

The hotel was designed to continue the zero lot line urban character of Water Street before dog-legging and curving west to transition to the diagonal orientation of the other buildings.  The façade was intentionally playful, expressing the hip, youthful Aloft Hotels brand while acknowledging the vibrant bar and restaurant scene to the immediate south.

The apartment building was nestled next to the river, away from the commotion of Water Street.  Its bold façade of multi-colored glass followed the contour of Knapp Street, segmenting and tapering to reveal balconies that grew with each floor and the corresponding increase in rent.  The apartments on this side of the building would have dramatic views of the downtown Milwaukee skyline, especially from the prow of each floor, where the reflective glass gave way to transparent facades with 270 degree views of the surrounding area.

Since the time of this design, this section of Milwaukee has seen the construction of the Deer District, numerous residential buildings, and the Plunkett Raysich Architect designed corporate office building at 1433 N. Water Street.  Perhaps one day soon, this project could also see the light of day.