Five teams are vying for a chance to design a small park in Milwaukee’s evolving Inner Harbor. The small two-lot site is just a small portion of the nearly 1,000 acres of waterfront which the city hopes to eventually transform. The Take Me to the River competition, initiated by the non-profit Harbor District, Inc., is the latest push to raise public interest in the mostly post-industrial landscape.

Milwaukee’s harbor is still a working harbor but much of it is unused. Vast tracts of the land surrounding the harbor are either filled with abandoned industrial buildings or are contaminated brownfields. In recent years, some these structures have begun to be dismantled and the land remediated. One of the most significant additions to the area is the University of Wisconsin School of Freshwater Sciences, a leading research facility in the Great Lakes. Recently teams of architects—including Chicago-based Studio Gang, Toronto-based DTAH, Vancouver-based PWL, and Denver-based Wenk—weighed in on the harbor as part of a Harbor District-led design charrette. Though that charrette was not intended to produce buildable proposals, this latest competition does hope to create new public space for the area.

The small site for the Take Me to the River competition is situated at the intersection of Greenfield Avenue and the Kinnickinnic River. Each of the five teams participating provided proposals that range from an extensive reshaping of the shoreline to interactive designs.

The participating teams and their projects include:

  • SmithGroupJJR and TKWA UrbanLab – Welcome to the River
  • MKExTEN (Vetter Denk Architects, Ten X Ten, and Design Fugitives) – Urban Flashlights
  • La Dallman Architects and Alfred Benesch Engineering – Waterlily Landing
  • Quorum Architects and Ayres Associates – Slosh Park
  • UWM Inner Harbor Team (UWM, City as a Living Laboratory, Creative Lighting Design, SEH) – Access/Engagement/Education
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