The City of Milwaukee has announced the four finalists in a competition to redevelop the city's lakefront, naming OJB, James Corner Field Operations, multidisciplinary firm AECOM, and Wisconsin-based consulting firm GRAEF. Selected from 24 entrants, the shortlisted teams are competing for a chance to revitalize the Milwaukee lakefront as part of the Lakefront Gateway Project masterplan. Each firm must now submit specific proposals for the Plaza project in time for a June deadline, after which all proposals will be made available to the public and judged by a selection committee. Learn more about the project after the break.
Already studded with numerous cultural attractions including the Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, the Lakefront requires sensitive proposals that recognize and enhance the city's existing civic identity. Teams have been asked to create a waterfront gateway to the city, prioritizing public plazas and streamlining pedestrian access from downtown.
"This is the front door to Milwaukee and for the longest time it's been a confusing cluster of unresolved components," said Brian Johnsen of Johnsen Schmaling Architects, a Milwaukee constituent of the OJB team, "...[T]hese iconic pieces that come together in the these terrible ways."
It is hoped that the winning proposal will cohesively restructure connections within the city, and in doing capitalize on Milwaukee's positioning and potential as a lake city. "We need to bring the lakefront together," said Nik Kovac, alderman on the Milwaukee Common Council, alongside comments calling the project "maybe the most high-profile thing" afoot in Milwaukee.
The four selected finalists represent a cross section of specialties and approaches, and have each earned repute through their past planning and architectural projects. James Corner Field and OJB are recognised for their landscaping abilities, having worked on the New York City High Line and Chicago Riverfront Plaza respectively. AECOM and GRAEF have carved a niche in civic projects, including AECOM's participation in the redevelopment of New York's ground zero.
As yet, no budget or definite timeframe has been set for the redevelopment project, with teams expected to propose means of financing within their final proposals. The winner is likely to be announced by late summer or early fall 2015.