Milwaukee RiverWalk, 2017–2018 Global Awards for Excellence Winner

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Developers: The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc., The Mandel Group, Business Improvement District No. 2 , The Brewery Works, Inc. et al
Designer: KenKay Associates, Mary Miss, Engberg Anderson Architects, et al.
Site Size: 9 acres (3.5 ha)

Milwaukee’s RiverWalk system draws hundreds of thousands of people to the shores of the Milwaukee River each year. Built through strong public/private partnerships, the RiverWalk is both a leisure space and a pedestrian thoroughfare. The accessible three-mile (4.8 km) system runs through the heart of downtown Milwaukee, with paths that average 12 feet wide (4 m) on each side of the river and public access points about every 400 feet (120 m).

Through a total investment of $52 million, properties adjacent to the RiverWalk have generated a $1 billion increase in property value since construction began. The RiverWalk has redefined downtown Milwaukee, helping create one of the most successful redevelopment corridors in Wisconsin and a lively commercial, residential, entertainment, and recreation center. Milwaukee has embraced the RiverWalk as a natural asset. Because people are invited to the water’s edge, new, imaginative additions have followed, including artwork and decoration, athletics and recreation, and dining and celebrations of Milwaukee’s culture.

During the 1980s, local leaders and property owners invited a renewed focus on the river. They saw the river as a way to connect downtown development with new business and leisure activities. In 1988, Mayor John Norquist announced the RiverWalk Initiative, a collaborative economic development plan to construct a downtown river walk.

The RiverWalk and its associated river cleanup were catalytic, advancing significant private sector investment in Milwaukee’s downtown. Developers transformed warehouses, tanneries, breweries, and an abandoned industrial corridor into 2,800 luxury and affordable residential units, 4.7 million square feet (437,000 sq m) of office space, 515 hotel rooms, performing arts centers, and dozens of riverfront businesses and restaurants.

 

Commercial Boating Industry There are three commercial cruise lines that operate on the Milwaukee River. Given the unprecedented growth in popularity, each company has substantially increased the size of their fleet over the years and continues to grow. Photo Credit – Dennis Raschke, The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc.
Commercial Boating Industry
There are three commercial cruise lines that operate on the Milwaukee River. Given the unprecedented growth in popularity, each company has substantially increased the size of their fleet over the years and continues to grow.
Photo Credit – Dennis Raschke, The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc.
“DREAM WITH THE FISHES BY AURORA” Commissioned by the City of Milwaukee, the Riverside Theater is adorned by this Cork Marchesia designed LED light sculpture. The lights are programed in a way to make the waves appear to move. A popular night-time attraction. Photo Credit – Dennis Raschke, The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc.
“DREAM WITH THE FISHES BY AURORA”
Commissioned by the City of Milwaukee, the Riverside Theater is adorned by this Cork Marchesia designed LED light sculpture. The lights are programed in a way to make the waves appear to move. A popular night-time attraction.
Photo Credit – Dennis Raschke, The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc.
Kidz Stage Children’s Theater First Stage is one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters & is the second largest theater company in Milwaukee. They utilize this outdoor performance space during warmer months to promote their arts-in-education programming. Photo Credit – Dennis Raschke, The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc.
Kidz Stage Children’s Theater
First Stage is one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters & is the second largest theater company in Milwaukee. They utilize this outdoor performance space during warmer months to promote their arts-in-education programming.
Photo Credit – Dennis Raschke, The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc.
Decorative Enhancements The RiverWalk System is three-miles long, making continuous activation difficult. Along the stretches that lack retail and/or restaurant activity, the system is enhanced with banners, floral baskets, benches and decorative trellises to provide elements of interest. Photo Credit – Dennis Raschke, The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc.
Decorative Enhancements
The RiverWalk System is three-miles long, making continuous activation difficult. Along the stretches that lack retail and/or restaurant activity, the system is enhanced with banners, floral baskets, benches and decorative trellises to provide elements of interest.
Photo Credit – Dennis Raschke, The Milwaukee RiverWalk District, Inc.

 

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