Vel R Phillips Plaza

The challenging geometry of the site, the need to safely usher an active streetcar line through the plaza on a diagonal and a long list of programmatic desires required the design team to work collaboratively in new and imaginative ways to design this catalytic urban plaza.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Vel R Philips will serve as a gateway to downtown Milwaukee and is located along the future Wisconsin Avenue Bus Rapid Transit line immediately adjacent to the Wisconsin Center District, host to a number of prominent events including the Democratic National Convention. “The Hop” streetcar line cuts diagonally through the plaza and the project is part of an ongoing effort to catalyze redevelopment and investment in the urban core of Milwaukee. Saiki Design worked with TKWA and HNTB to co-author a site plan for the nearly one-acre urban plaza and transit hub in Milwaukee’s Westown neighborhood.

The theme of a “Green Oasis” emerged as a dominant organizing element of the overall design and informed the diamond grid of stately canopy trees defining the plaza’s structure. Permeable pavers and a continuous, monolithic structural soil system underneath much of the plaza supports a healthy, vigorous urban tree canopy and introduces an element of texture and scale to the large space. The plaza’s ground-level permeable pavements also provide flex space for events and vending opportunities while connecting amenities including a new café pavilion with public restrooms, intensely planted stormwater gardens and raised street crossings which contribute to the overall pedestrian and public transit-oriented spirit of the plaza.

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