24th 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 

The 24th Annual Mayor's Design Awards were announced on Monday, June 7th, 2021 at the Innovations and Wellness Commons.

To view a recording of the 24th Annual Mayor's Design Awards announcement, CLICK HERE!
To view a powerpoint of the 24th Annual Mayor's Design Awards, CLICK HERE!



2021 Mayor's Design Award Winners

Project Categories:


Spaces and Places

Small Gems

Test of Time

Design that Grabs You



The following projects exemplify urban infill by redeveloping challenging sites with new construction that repair critical gaps in the urban fabric while enhancing their neighborhoods and contributing to the character of their surroundings.

Click here for a video highlighting the winners in this category.

Innovations and Wellness Commons


1609 West North Avenue

Innovations and Wellness Commons

This project built on phase 1 of the Innovation and Wellness Commons in Lindsay Heights. The new space will be home to a number of important tenants whose goal is the uplift the residents of the surrounding community, including the Milwaukee Area Health Education Center (Milwaukee AHEC), United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM), Benedict Center‘s Sisters Program, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering‘s Scholars Program.


2330 West Mineral Street and 918 South 24th Street

Clarke Square Apartments

Clarke Square Apartments

In April 2018, Cardinal Capital Management, Inc. and Journey House, Inc. were jointly

awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to develop 40 apartments in the Clarke Square neighborhood on Milwaukee’s Near South Side. The Clarke Square Apartments, will house residents that are between 50% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) with a 10-unit set-aside for individuals aging out of the foster care system. Supportive services will be provided by Journey House to help residents with skills to live independently, including employment, GED, and counseling support services as well as providing assistance in accessing other resources and assistance. Services will be provided at Journey House’s existing offices, which is a five-minute walk from the site.

Five Fifty Ultra Lofts


550 West Juneau Street
Five Fifty Ultra Lofts

Located across the street from the Fiserv Forum, Five-fifty Ulta Lofts is a new 112 unit luxury apartment building with first floor commercial space. Despite the challenges of developing the narrow lot, this project was able to effectively screen the bucks parking garage and create a more pleasant edge for 6th street.


300 West Florida Street

Timber Lofts

Timber Lofts

 Located in Milwaukee’s 5th Ward and within the Historically Designated Florida and Third Industrial Historic District, the Timer Lofts project features the restoration and re-use of an existing five story cream city brick industrial loft building, with a four story new construction addition on the adjacent lot. This project utilized Historic Tax Credits and as such, all parts of the design and methods of rehabilitation were reviewed and approved by NPS. The first floor of the along Florida street features retail space and the resident lobby, leasing office, and fitness room, with the above floors consisting of 60 luxury apartments. On the exterior the rustic/sooty appearance and of some of the existing masonry was inspiration to inform the dark charcoal masonry of the new construction. Expressive detailing and large window elements complement the historic building and enhance the addition’s design.

Spaces and Places

The following projects have found unique opportunities to contribute to the character of their neighborhoods by creating or enhancing streets and public spaces that engage the public, facilitate community gathering, and make the City a more beautiful and interesting place.

Click here for a video highlighting the winners in this category.

Light the Hoan


Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge

Light the HoanLight the Hoan is a collective of local business and civic leaders who have joined forces to illuminate the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge. The group launched a $1.5 million public crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds for the thousands of computer-controlled LED lights to illuminate the Hoan Bridge. A portion of the funds will also be put into a reserve fund to provide for regular bridge maintenance up to 10 years. Beyond animation and changing colors, the lights can help celebrate events like Brewers’ home runs, big plays at the Fiserv Forum, live music, and more. Most recently, Light the Hoan has launched the Shine a Light campaign — an eleven month campaign dedicated to highlighting one local Milwaukee nonprofit each month where 50% of each month’s bulb donation proceeds were given back to the non-profit.

1320 West Burnham Street

Milwaukee Christian Center's Youth Artists United Program Mural

MCC Youth Artists United Mural

Tia Richardson and students designed and painted a mural with residents in the Mitchell St/Muskego Way neighborhood area behind El Rey Foods (1320 W. Burnham). Richardson’s creative process is all inclusive and full of positivity and support. The goal was to represent and connect the community through art in this safe space by "Butterfly Park.


Vliet Street Oasis

3743 West Vliet Street
Vliet Street Oasis

In July 2020, a small group of Vliet Street business owners, neighbors, and Near West Side Partners established the Vliet Street Oasis - a pocket park with 2 produce stands - to provide a safe place for neighbors and customers to gather during the Covid-19 pandemic. By Labor Day, two produce stands were erected and new vendors came on to sell freshly prepared foods and produce 5 days a week. Bright yellow picnic tables provided vital outdoor dining space for Triciclo Peru and Pete's Pops. The season closed in October with the Vliet Street Pumpkin Patch – an event where neighbors and visitors had a chance to enjoy free Pete's Pops while selected a pumpkin to take home and decorate. Plans are in the works to make the Vliet Street Oasis the place to be during the 2021 summer season.



3350 South 25th Street

Southgate Playfield Renovation

Southgate Playfield

Southgate Playfield serves the residents of the Southgate neighborhood on Milwaukee’s southside. The 2019-2020 renovation was the first major investment to the playfield since the 1950s, when 100 percent of the site was paved with asphalt. With a high population density of children in the neighborhood, this project represented a tremendous opportunity to enhance the quality of life for more than 2,732 individuals who live in the area. The community-driven design for Southgate Playfield replaced nearly two acres of asphalt with amenities that provide opportunities for play, public gathering, and free summer playground programming, while featuring a greener, shadier, and more inviting destination for all members of the community. The project incorporated modern playground equipment with poured-in-place rubber surfacing, play mounds, a hill-side slide, circular basketball courts, flexible painted play areas, a loop trail, and a splash pad.

Small Gems

The following neighborhood scale projects have displayed design excellence by renovating small commercial buildings in a pedestrian friendly way and having an outsized impact on the quality of the urban environment.

Click here for a video highlighting the winners in this category.

Legacy Co-working and Innovation Space


1920 N Martin Luther King Drive

The new owners of this former storage building had a vision of re-creating a vibrant first floor commercial space and converting the upper level into their private residence. The upper unit was finished to provide a 4 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath unit, with a roof deck that is accessed from the main living space. The façade and first floor were renovated to activate the street. The first floor is occupied by the African American Chamber of Commerce. The intention was to design an environment where young entrepreneurs could feel safe taking the leap into developing business that would meet the needs of a revitalized economic corridor.


3514 North Port Washington Avenue

5 Points Art Gallery and Studios

5 Points Art Gallery5 Points Art Gallery & Studios is an art exhibition space focused on increasing representation and collection of local, national, and international contemporary fine and outsider artwork by artists of color and other marginalized groups. The gallery is a conscious reinvestment project, embedded in the operator’s childhood North Side Milwaukee neighborhood of 5 Points. The 5 Points Art & Gallery & Studios building is a historical structure from the 1920s that most recently housed the premier, black-owned Johnson-Goolsby Funeral Home and Services. The redevelopment was revived into a mixed-use art space, consisting of a 3,000 square foot art gallery with a gift shop for professional visual art exhibitions and special events, 9 artist work studios, a shared commercial kitchen for culinary artists and caterers and 2 artist residency apartments.


Paloma Taco and Tequila

5419 West North Avenue
Paloma Taco and Tequila

Paloma Taco and Tequila is located in what was previously a storage space for a local architectural firm on North Avenue. The new restaurant offers outdoor patio seating and a walk-up window to order food to-go.

347 East Ward Street

The Bindery

The BinderyThe building at 347 Ward street in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood, last renovated in 1973 disappeared into the context of the more vibrant neighborhood surrounding it. The multi-generational family book bindery inside had slowed production and was closing operations when it was purchased in late 2019 by “The Bindery”. The project goals was to convert the city’s last traditional book bindery and its antique equipment into a gathering place for Milwaukee’s writers, typographers, and print makers. To create a more noticeable and graceful entrance to the building, a section of the original 1920’s building was removed to create a small courtyard off of Ward Street. The interior palate of the project was a blend of vibrant color, industrial heritage, and plain old fun.

Urbal Tea


3060 South 13th Street
Urbal Tea

For years this property had sat dormant as a City owned foreclosure along this highly visible section of S 13th Street, at the heart of the Crisol Corridor Business Improvement District and the historic Polonia neighborhood. Previously housing a number of nightclubs, the property suffered from decay and water damage throughout. The Urbal Tea café is slated to open here in the spring/summer of 2021, and the company’s tea production and packaging is already taking place on-site. The redevelopment not only renewed a tremendous blight on the 13th St commercial corridor near W Oklahoma Ave, but has also been inspirational toward new ideas and planning from area residents and business owners.

Test of Time

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.

Click here for a video highlighting the winners in this category.

The National Block


425 West National Avenue

National BlockThe National Block sits on a prominent corner of two commercial streets in Milwaukee’s Walkers Point. Made up of three masonry buildings built in 1882, it was constructed in the Italianate Stye and remains one of its best surviving examples. Historically, the four-story building with its decorative façade, large retail storefront, and mercantile above created a grand street presence. Over the years, the buildings fell into severe disrepair with water and fire damage, mold infestation, and failing structure. In 2016, the City of Milwaukee condemned the building and put out a raze order. However, developer Michael Morrison of True, Inc. instead set out to save and remodel it into what is today: a boutique event space, and new market rate apartments with a rooftop deck. The revitalization was a massive undertaking, with every corner of the building painstakingly crafted and rehabilitated to preserve its historic character and integrity.  A completely new steel structural system had to be inserted into the building, and the historic storefront along the streets was replaced with solid walls, redefining the character of the building and street. 


224 South 1st Street

Duet Resource Group Experience Center

Duet Resource Center

The Duet Resource Group Experience Center sits at the borders of The Third Ward, Walker’s Point, and Harbor District neighborhoods. The building was originally built and occupied by the Pawling and Harnischfeger machine patternmaking facility. The building was later leased to the fledgling Milwaukee School of Trades for offices, classrooms, and their plumbing training department. It then sat vacant from the early 2010’s until Duet Resource Group completed the purchase of the building in 2018. During the extensive renovations, exploratory demolition exposed existing cream city brick, structural steel and wood joists concealed behind lathe and plaster. All of the original window openings were reopened, receiving new frames and energy efficient glass. Many of the tradespeople who worked on this renovation were graduates of Bradley Tech High School, giving them an additional sense of pride and commitment to their artistry upon hearing the history of the building.

Wheel & Sprocket Headquarters

187 East Becher Street
Wheel & Sprocket

This project transformed an old industrial building at the northern rim of Bay View into the new home office and operational base of Wheel & Sprocket. The project faced numerous hurdles including rezoning, environmental contamination, and a number of other issues uncovered along the way. Aside from the brick and steel structural skeleton, every building system is new or updated. The building now includes a mural painted on the north façade and a Café with all profits benefiting the Chris Kegel Foundation. In addition, there is a large community space that is open to be used for meetings, concerts, fundraisers, and other events. The building is also home to the Wisconsin Bike Federation and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.


3728 North Fratney Street

3728 Fratney Street

3728 Fratney

This former 1920s-era tannery located in the Riverworks Business Improvement District was converted in to 17 new studios for artists and makers. This project is helping re-brand Fratney Street into the next creative district. Work done on the building included removing the sheet metal siding to open up the windows and expose the existing brick, install all new windows, and completely renovate the interior.

Bader Bank Building


3338 North Martin Luther King Jr Drive
Bader Bank Building

In its heyday, the Bader Bank Building was a bank that was expanded several times. Over the years much of the façade finery deteriorated and was removed. This project’s goal was not only to stabilize the vacant building’s shell, but rehabilitate it and make it accessible to all by bringing it up to code. The original corner lobby space has been converted to an inviting café dining area with a full kitchen and coffee roasting room. The addition to the north provides a new face with a glass wrapped reception and waiting area. The modern addition was designed to act as a second primary entrance, creating a unique harmony of new and historic “corner” entrances. The prominent stone wall sweeps on the original building were brought into the new addition as a recessed panel frame. The addition also features a large day lit group meeting/classroom that adds capacity for programs such as free COVID testing for the community.


212 West Wisconsin Avenue

Warner Grand Theater/Bradley Symphony Center

Warner Grand Theater/Bradley Symphony

This project transforms a long vacant historical building into the new home of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Originally built in 1931, the three-story Warner Grand Theater is a mix of French Renaissance and Art Deco. Designed by famed theater architects Rapp & Rapp, it was one of Milwaukee’s largest movie theaters for almost six decades. Prior to this project, the building sat vacant for two decades. In addition to restoring the Warner Theater’s historic exterior and interior features, this project had to move the architecturally significant back wall, a fragile historical wall 86 feet high, 100 feet long, weighing 625 tons, out 35 feet into a city street. Using historic photos as a guide, the marquee and 50 foot “Warner” blade sign were recreated, blending the old with the new in as much historically accurate detail as possible, from color, bulb style, spacing and stained-glass pattern. Completing the external transformation was the construction of a two-story glass atrium to serve as additional lobby and event space. Featuring floor to ceiling glass, the atrium seamlessly connects the artistry inside with the world outside.

Design that Grabs You

The following projects have made exciting and important contributions to the urban environment by respecting the context of their surroundings while raising the bar for major development and contemporary architecture in the City of Milwaukee.

Click here for a video highlighting the winners in this category.

Villard Commons


187 East Becher Street
Villard Commons

The transformative mixed-use housing development helps create a vibrant neighborhood full of diversity, energy, and economic activity for the business corridor and surrounding neighborhoods. Villard Commons is a four-story mix of brick and metal cladding and includes 41 units of housing and 2,000 SF of new retail space.


7717 West Good Hope Road

Good Hope Library

Good Hope LibraryThe new Good Hope library is part of a mixed use development and replaces the Mill Roads Milwaukee Public Library which was originally opened in 1970. The apartment complex above features 65 affordable unit apartments. The library includes spaces such as a teen area, a makerspace, study rooms and a large community room.

The Yards


205 West Oregon Street
The Yards

The Yards is a new five-story, 100,000 SF, 86-unit mixed-use multifamily residential building located at the southeast gateway of The Reed Street Yards development in Walker’s Point. The scale and materiality compliment the historic urban fabric of the neighborhood while the design adds a modern twist to the growing, vibrant residential community. The main building entrance is identified by a cedar-lined canopy. The Yards pays tribute to her sister-building, The Quin, just across the street, through similar materials and an industrial feel. The building activates a previously vacant streetscape through corner retail, apartment common spaces, and pedestrian enhancing back-lit glass features. Balconies located along the exterior of the building bring activity to the outside “yards” and the surrounding neighborhood to enhance the area’s sense of community.


2160 South Kinnickinnic Avenue


KinetikKinetiK is a new, 5 story, 250 unit apartment in Bay View with a green roof and a secure dog run. While the units remained neutral, the rest of the building is full of color. The colors were inspired by the history of steel mills that previously occupied much of the area. As the steel would heat up on the rolling mills, the colors would change from reds and oranges to yellows and greens when the steel cooled down. The design team focused on placing the exterior metal panels to dance playfully around the entire perimeter of the building. Additionally, the project team worked with the city to preserve and upgrade an adjacent underutilized park through funding from KinetiK's property tax.

Huron Building


511 North Broadway

Huron BuildingLocated at the intersection of Broadway and Clybourn, the Huron Building offers 162,000 square feet of modern Class-A office space, 10,000 square feet of marquis retail, and tenant amenities such as an outdoor terrace. The site where Huron is located was identified over 10 years ago in the City's Downtown Plan as a catalytic redevelopment site. Physically, the building serves to connect the Third Ward and Central Business District. Conceptually, the building - located in the City's Historic Financial District - also connects historic Milwaukee with modern Milwaukee. The stone facade incorporates the use of old world materials, and the 8th floor terrace is actually the result of creating a "cut out" in the building to preserve views of the historic Mackie belltower. With support from the City of Milwaukee and the Downtown BID, the project also constructed a $3.8 million streetscaping plan, including public art and lighting under the 794 freeway, and landscaping and lighting improvements up and down Broadway.

790 North Water Street

BMO Tower

BMO Tower

The BMO Tower is a new 25 story, 380,000 square foot office building built on site of what was previously an outdated 20-story tower and parking deck. The all-glass tower features a split-bar massing strategy which emphasizes verticality through an angled facade and curved corner that responds to site conditions. The project is the first true high rise multi-tenant office project constructed in Milwaukee during this century. The building and its plaza also activates the street level with artwork, a new Fiddleheads Coffee shop, signature retail spaces, and an articulated plaza across from City Hall.

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