Erie Street Plaza / StossLU

© StossLU

Architect: StossLU
Location: , USA
Project Team: Chris Reed, principle; Scott Bishop, project manager; Tim Barner, Adrian Fehrmann, Kristin Malone, Chris Muskopf, Graham Palmer, Megan Studer
Consultants: Vetter Denk, urban design; Light TH!S, lighting design; GRAEF Anhalt Schloemer & Associates, engineering
Project Area: 13,000 sqf
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: StossLU 


Positioned on the edge of the Federal Channel and Lake Michigan, Erie Street Plaza by StossLU is a new public space that serves to connect downtown Milwaukee to a newly revitalized outer zone of the city. It is part of a three mile long green corridor that promotes activity along the city’s reclaimed waterfront for public use. From the project’s inception, its form progressed under the principle of maximizing programmatic, environmental, and ecologic variety within the space while recalling the site’s industrial past and surroundings through use of three primary elements.

© StossLU

Viewing the park as a “flexible field” was key for Stoss in creating a design that could behave in a way that would parallel its ultimate use. That being said, aesthetic and built variety is attained within the park by the formal manipulation of three elements or “hybrid ecologies.” The radiant grove, the flexible field, and the steel marsh step down from the edge of the site towards the water. Each distinct zone houses varying program, views, and ecologic characteristics.

© StossLU

Incorporated into all three areas, a paver of variable density and orientation and a wood decking foster general movement throughout the site without acting as a restrictive barrier to specific activities. Luminous fiberglass seats prevalent throughout the park serve to act as nodes of density as lighting conditions change towards nightfall.

© StossLU

The highly variable ecologic opportunity provided by the site’s proximity to Lake Michigan present a further degree of flux within the site. The steel marsh, located behind a slitted corrugated steel bulkhead, allows for the penetration of water into the site in a way that can restrict access to its lower portion depending on water levels within the lake. This reclaimed soft-edge of the water restores a visual marker of the shifting environment and promotes ecological growth at the site.

© StossLU

Ultimately, the idea of fostering flexibility through varied ecology present within the design of Erie Street Plaza can be seen as a model for further urban reclamation projects that aspire to provide complex contextual and programmatic relationships with a clear organizational and material logic imbued within.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Erie Street Plaza / StossLU" 06 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • edub

    it’s like the Highline project, except, not as good.

  • kmaf

    Is it just me or do all landscape urbanist projects seem to repeat the same ideas until meaningless. Water infiltrates your site, you have flexible fields and varied ecologies and programs, all in one project, and yet… it’s kind of boring. Maybe all that rhetoric isn’t enough to make a park huh? Maybe if more time was spent on straight design.

    • alechs

      I think it is because North American landscape projects are trying to reinforce a new status quo that simply incorporates all the general ideas you just mentioned. Generally, the most successful bit of landscape design comes from regional management masterplanning of American urban territories.

      As for the projects themselves, they do not embody any personality or originality because the long overdue projects finally being built were designed to test a series of unproven theoretical ideas from the last decade. There are a lot of landscape urbanists/architects who have been dwelling over the same ideas without a chance to realize them.

      Also take into account that parks need time to grow into something exciting.