23rd Annual Mayor's Design Awards

The Mayor’s Design Awards are presented in an ongoing effort to recognize design excellence throughout the City of Milwaukee. Recipients have added value to their neighborhoods by restoring, constructing or enhancing their properties in a way that respects the urban fabric and contributes to the character of their surroundings.

View previous award winners by year 


To view a summary document of the 23rd Annual Mayor's Design Awards, CLICK HERE!
To view a poster showcasing the 23rd Annual Mayor's Design Award winners, CLICK HERE!  



2020 Mayor's Design Award Winners

Project Categories:

Art and Space

Play Green

Old and New

Local Gems

Raise the Bar

Design Champion: Whitney Gould


Art and Space

The following projects have found unique opportunities to contribute to the character of their neighborhoods and have made their streets and public spaces more attractive by reclaiming underused spaces engaging the public, utilizing existing infrastructure, or enhancing educational opportunities.


Harbor View Plaza


600 East Greenfield Avenue

Harbor View Plaza

Harbor View Plaza is a new public park on Milwaukee’s inner harbor waterfront. The goal of the new park is to connect the Near South Side residents to the waterways of the inner harbor that have been off-limits for over 100 years. The Plaza includes an ADA accessible public kayak dock, two play water pumps, a water feature that includes native aquatic plants and a recirculating underground cistern, and a play structure made from a used shipping container. It has already been the site of a number of events, including two Play Street events and Harbor Fest.


5527 West North Avenue

Uptown Pocket Park

Uptown Pocket Park

The 56th and North Avenue Pocket Park is located in the Washington Heights neighborhood. The goal of the project was to create a welcoming gathering space and accommodate a small community orchard. The design incorporated custom benches and steel planters, all fabricated on site, and also unique movable picnic tables which glide on re-purposed train rails. Beautiful perennial plantings and small trees and shrubs provide interest in the space throughout the seasons and provide food sources for pollinating insects and birds. The BID also raised funds to purchase a Bublr bike station.

Kegnado at Lakefront Brewery


1872 North Commerce Street
Kegnado at Lakefront Brewery

Composed of 71 kegs and 40 feet tall, Kegnado is a oneof-a-kind illuminated art project that is easily visible from the Milwaukee River. Designed with limitless color combinations, themes and patterns, the threedimensional kegs appear to be tumbling off the side of the Northeast corner of the Brewery.


The 1500 and 1600 blocks of South 31st and 32nd Street

Burnham Park Alley Garage Mural Project

Burnham Park Alley Garage Mural

 The Burnham Park Alley Garage Mural project transformed two alleys on the 1500 and 1600 blocks of South 31st and 32nd Street in the Burnham Park Neighborhood into a safe, welcoming and unique space. The goal of the project was to address neighborhood concerns of appearance and safety by creating a beautiful, safe and accessible community space. Residents partnered with the organizations Layton Boulevard West Neighbors and Artists Working in Education to successfully work with 9 artists to paint 13 murals on their garage doors, install 15 floodlights and add speed limit signage.

Frontline Heroes


600 West Lincoln Avenue
Healthcare Worker Mural 

This new mural on the South Side, titled “Frontline Heroes”, is dedicated to medical workers on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The artist Mauricio Ramirez designed the artwork as a tribute to all the brave health care workers battling the virus.

Play Green

The following projects have demonstrated a commitment to environmental sustainability and to enhancing the quality of life in their surrounding neighborhood through the transformation of deteriorating playgrounds. The project helps connect children to greenspaces through pavement removal, green infrastructure improvements, and other educational and recreational improvements.

Columbia Playfield


1345 West Columbia Street

Columbia PlayfieldColumbia Playfield serves the residents of the 53206 zip code. The 2018-19 renovation was the first major investment to the playfield since the 1950s, when more than 73% of the site was paved with asphalt. This project represented a significant, transformational opportunity to enhance the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhood.

The overall goal of this venture was to create a dynamic, multi-functional, and inter-generational destination that encourages pride within the community and gives families a place to gather, learn, and recreate. The design for Columbia Playfield included de-paving large areas of asphalt, adding green open space and trees, modern playground equipment with poured-in-place rubber surfacing and play mounds, basketball and flexible pavement play areas, a loop trail, a raised plaza with shade structure, and a splash pad.

Milwaukee-Area Green and Healthy Schoolyards

The following four projects represent the first cohort of schools to complete a three-year process to transform their playgrounds through the Green Schools Consortium of Milwaukee (GSCM) competitive green schoolyard redevelopment program. Between the four schools, over 2,000 MPS students now have a greener campus and thousands of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have access to unique and engaging gathering spaces too.

Hawley School Playfield



Hawley Environmental School Playfield

5610 West Wisconsin Avenue
Longfellow Community School Playfield



Longfellow Community School Playfield

1021 South 21st Street
Starms Early Childhood School Playfield



Starms Early Childhood School Playfield

2616 West Garfield Avenue
Burdick School Playfield



Burdick School Playfield

4348 South Griffin Ave

Old and New

The following projects have added value to the city by restoring or reusing their properties in a way that preserves and enhances the character of their neighborhoods and reinforces the traditional neighborhood fabric. These projects will help to preserve the city’s built environment and architectural legacy for future generations.

Arts @ Large


1100 South 5th Street
Arts at Large

A previously blighted historic building, the location of the new Arts at Large community center in Walker’s Point has been revitalized with a café, art space, co working space with other nonprofits, and a new venue for events. The integrity of the building was maintained in the renovations which included the restoration of historic structural elements of the exterior and rehabilitation of storefronts. The project was completed with the help of city grants.


1741 West St. Paul Avenue

Bachman Furniture

Bachman Furniture

Bachman Furniture relocated their furniture showroom from the previous location on Capital Drive to the previously vacant warehouse in the West St. Paul Avenue Design District within the Menomonee River Valley. The extensive interior and exterior renovations on the historic building were done with the help of BID/City façade grant, and have maintained its character and embrace the yet-to-be developed buildings around it. Previously covered with steel sheet siding, the oversized façade windows welcome natural light into the historic interior while also inviting passersby the opportunity to see what’s inside. the façade’s masonry was carefully restored and still maintains the inlaid brick identifier of its original occupant, the American Radiator Company. Bachman retained the industrial character of the building’s interior by sandblasting the wooden beams, cleaning the cream city brick walls, and refinishing the original hardwood floors. The project also included replacing a vacant, weedy lot across from their building with a paved parking lot and landscaping.

Dead Bird Brewing

1726 North 5th Street
Dead Bird Brewing

Dead Bird Brewing is a new local brewery and bar located in the Bronzeville Neighborhood, in a building previously used as a warehouse. The owners showed their commitment to creating a sustainable environment by incorporating a bioswale and permeable pavement in to the project, as well as using reclaimed wood inside the taproom


422 North 15th Street

CKA Architects Engineers Planners

CKA Architects Engineers Planners

In 2018, CKA Architects Engineers Planners renovated the former 15,000-square-foot Milwaukee Casket Company building in Milwaukee’s growing St. Paul Avenue Design District, transforming a blighted, mostly vacant property into an eyecatching office building and event space. The exterior cream city masonry was fully restored, and new windows and doors were installed throughout. Each floor was meticulously restored, including all new electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. The building’s exterior features a unique lighting system which changes colors to celebrate local events.



1726 North 1st Street

The Milwaukee Fortress is an apartment building in the Brewer’s Hill neighborhood. Prior to its rehabilitation, Milwaukee Fortress was not thought of as a desirable space. Fire exits were nailed shut, living spaces weren’t up to code, electrical was failing, and the City of Milwaukee had an order out to repair the deteriorating facade. Today, Fortress holds 25,000 square feet of commercial space and 132 residential apartments. Amenities include a rooftop terrace, spacious courtyard with grilling and gathering spaces, a two-story club room, maker space, and pet spa.

Local Gems

The following projects have made extraordinary contributions to the urban mixed-use environment by renovating properties for small local businesses within their neighborhoods, all while displaying excellence in design that is cohesive to their surroundings.

Triciclo Peru


3801 West Vliet Street

Triciclo PeruTricilo Peru is a new empanada bar restaurant that opened just down the street from Washington Park and directly next door to Pete’s Pops. The business started as a food cart and grew their following. The opening of Triciclo Peru brought new life to the Vliet Street corridor by transforming the previously vacant building and drawing customers from all over the city. Some of the renovation work was done with the help of city grants.


636 South 6th Street

Zocalo Food Truck Park

Zocalo Food Truck Park

The Zocalo Food Truck Park is a new community gathering space at a premier gateway to the Walker’s Point Neighborhood and the entire south side. The park has sixth vendor spots for local food trucks, as well as a full-service bar, bocce court and picnic table seating both outdoors and covered. The project enhances the corridor and the surrounding neighborhood and is a new destination for the entire City that displays the creativity of entrepreneurs that are from the community. Work was done on both the building and the existing parking lots and was done with the help of city grants.


801 North Cass Street

Buckley’s Restaurant and Bar, located in downtown Milwaukee, recently went through a major expansion. The project combined two historic buildings to provide more indoor and outdoor space for the restaurant. The buildout of their new dining spaces was done with a high design standard and significant improvements were made to the exterior landscaping. Work for this project was done with the help of city grants


3514 West National Avenue

Orenda Café

Orenda Cafe

3514 West National Avenue was a blighted City-owned foreclosure sitting vacant for more than 10 years in the Silver City Neighborhood. Layton Boulevard West Neighbors decided to purchase the building from the City of Milwaukee and invest in the renovations to prove the value of the community, legitimize resident demand, and catalyze new private market investment in the surrounding buildings. The new Business, Orenda Café, brought a new cafe for breakfast options that neighborhood residents had been asking for many years. A one-of-a-kind apartment with amazing city views provides affordable housing above the restaurant. The work done includes new windows, doors, signage, painting and complete interior renovation.

La Sierrita Mexican Restaurant


2689 South 13th Street
La Sierrita Mexican Restaurant

The opening of the new La Sierrita Mexican Restaurant on the South side is another example of a restoration and transformation of a blighted tavern. Miguel, the restaurant owner, operated a food truck across the street from the property for over 8 years before purchasing the property. The work done on the building included expanded the dining area and added a new expansion for a full commercial kitchen. The facade enhancements significantly opened up the building and the addition of the patio and landscaping at the corner not only beautified and activated the public space but also increased pedestrian safety by removing ingress/egress points that crossed public sidewalks. The renovations were done with the help of city grants.


732 East Burleigh Street



Wonderland is a hip new diner located in the Riverwest neighborhood next to the Art Bar. The project consisted of the expansion and refurbishing of a building that had sat vacant for many years.

Scout Gallery


1104 West Historic Mitchell Street
Scout Gallery

This project was previously a blighted city owned property that sat vacant for over 5 years on Historic Mitchell Street. It was transformed into an artist’s collective that has breathed life into the area. The art gallery has brought hundreds of people every week to gallery night and is giving people new insights into what Mitchell St can be. The redevelopment was a historic rehab that was done under Historic Preservation guidelines with the help of city grants. The new use has led to close to a dozen new artists displaying their work on Mitchell Street and creating new and positive night time uses.


3528 West Fond Du Lac Avenue

T&T Café

T and T CafeT&T Café is located next door to the new Sherman Phoenix in the Sherman Park neighborhood. The owners of the restaurant lost their house in the Sherman Park uprising and used the money to purchase the property.

Johanna’s Café


1239 South 11th Street
Johanna's CaféJohanna’s Café is located on the South side in what used to be an abandoned and dilapidated tavern, and was most recently a city-owned property. The Café and bakery serves Puerto Rican pastries and cuisine and has become a destination and cultural hub for the Puerto Rican community.


5811 West Vliet Street

Charles E. Fromage

Charles E FromageCharles E Fromage is a new restaurant on the edge of the Washington Heights neighborhood. The project turned a vacant space into a fun, welcoming, neighborhoodserving wine & cheese bistro. The extensive renovations included both exterior and interior work and were done with the help of city grants. The project includes an outdoor patio, and has become a gathering space and an asset for the community

Raise the Bar

The following projects have added value to the City of Milwaukee by displaying design excellence and respecting and contributing to the urban fabric and the character of their surroundings while raising the bar for major development and contemporary architecture in the City.

Milwaukee Bucks Deer District


340 West Highland Avenue
Milwaukee Bucks Deer DistrictLocated at the heart of a multi-phase downtown development, the Milwaukee Bucks Deer District includes a 2.3-acre public Plaza, three buildings activated by six dining and entertainment tenants, and an all-seasons Beer Garden with semi-covered canopy structure. The Plaza includes extensively landscaped public areas with native trees and plantings, public art, an interactive water feature, and a large central gathering area that is home to festivals and other events year-round. A primary driving force for the design of the project was to create a walkable, human-scaled community that connects surrounding neighborhoods to become a truly inclusive new “Living Room” for the City.



132 North Jackson Street

Milwaukee Ballet - Baumgartner Center for Dance

Baumgartner Center for DanceThe new Milwaukee Ballet Center for Dance is located in what was previously a polluted vacant railyard in the city’s Historic Third Ward. The new building was envisioned as a gathering place for dancers and dance lovers from Milwaukee and beyond. The building maintains the simple four-sided form of historic warehouses in the district, and is clad in long, charcoal-hued brick with a reflective sheen, arranged in an ornamental pattern along the exterior. On the first floor, the large Vandenberg/ Mardak Community Studio is enclosed with a movable glass wall that opens to the atrium for special events.

The Contour


2111 East Ivanhoe Place
The ContourThe Contour, located on Milwaukee’s East Side, is a brand new mixed-use apartment building with 88 apartment units and 10,000 square feet of retail space along North Prospect Avenue. The project site was an underutilized parcel in the active eastside business improvement district. Creative design strategies were utilized to provide an activated urban retail street front while satisfying the parking requirements and minimizing any visual impact of structured parking on the street facing facades. The architecture is asymmetrically articulated to provide a dynamic, well-proportioned and layered façade design aesthetic.


1832 North Farwell Avenue


UrbaniteUrbanite is a new mixed use building on Milwaukee’s East Side with 153 apartments and 10,000 square feet of office and commercial space. The massing and design of the building is innovative as the project attractively screens the interior parking areas of the building from the public street with active uses including commercial space on the ground floor and community spaces and office uses on upper floors. The tower portion of the building is well integrated with a four story masonry base which allows the project to add density to the corridor while fitting in well with the surrounding context.

Vim + Vigor


926 West Juneau Avenue & 1003 West Winnebago Street

Vim and VigorThe Vim and Vigor apartment complex includes two new apartment buildings located in the historic (former Pabst) Brewery District. The buildings are located approximately a block from each other and include 274 units overall. The Juneau Avenue building has 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail space that navigates the complex sloping street frontage on Juneau Ave. and wraps to a well-design courtyard space. The buildings’ use of masonry materials add depth to the façades and help the building fit in with the historic district while maintaining a modern aesthetic.

2020 Design Champion

Whitney Gould


Whitney GouldFor her decades of advocacy for great design in the City of Milwaukee, this year’s Mayors Design Awards presents the Design Champion award to Whitney Gould. Whitney worked for the Milwaukee Journal/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for over 20 years, sharing her strong design opinions as a landscape writer and architecture critic. She later served on the City Plan Commission and attended weekly Design Review Team meetings. Whitney Gould was never shy about sharing her thoughts, and she influenced many great architectural works around Milwaukee including the Calatrava pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the new Discovery World.

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