University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Milwaukee, WI


UW Milwaukee's Community Design Solutions wins at SXSW

By snatraj
Nov 2, '15 3:09 PM EST

The School of Architecture and Urban Planning's Carolyn Esswein, Director of Community Design Solutions, and Tim McCollow, HOME GR/OWN Program Manager City of Milwaukee, pitched their Partners for Places project as a finalist at the SXSW Eco conference in Austin on October 6th.  Their project was selected as the winner in the Place by Design “Urban Strategy” category.   Other finalists included Seattle, Austin, Chicago, and L.A.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s HOME GR/OWN initiative is transforming vacant lots into more than 20 pocket parks and orchards.  Community Design Solutions (CDS) staff developed the planning and design process, conducted workshops with neighborhood residents to gather priorities for each site, developed the park and orchard site plans and renderings, and worked with City staff regarding materials and final design details. The design team also included Walnut Way Conservation Corporation, Energy Exchange, and dozens of community residents who participated in design workshops.  The projects are being built by non-profit landscape companies using workers from the neighborhoods.

“The community partnerships fostered to develop all of HOME GR/OWN’s new vacant lot transformations are helping to create a more sustainable city,” Mayor Barrett said.  “I am proud of our HOME GR/OWN program and the Partners for Places team for receiving this prestigious award and for growing opportunities in Milwaukee neighborhoods.”

SXSW Eco is an annual conference held in Austin, Texas, that creates a space for business leaders, investors, innovators and designers to advance solutions that drive economic, environmental and social change.

CDS staff who worked on the project included:  Carolyn Esswein, Gerri Witthuhn, Efrain Cano, Andrew Carlson, Anna Doran, Ryan Guetschow, Amber Piacentine, Ryan Shortridge, Frank Zimmerman, and Nick Zukauskas.

Partners for Places is funded through City, philanthropic and community supporters.  National funding was provided through a Bloomberg Award for Partners for Places - a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, received by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.  Local funding was provided by the Community Development Grants Administration, GMF and other members of the Community Development Alliance, including Northwestern Mutual Foundation, the Fund for Lake Michigan and Zilber Family Foundation.  Additional support was provided by Growing Power, David J. Frank Landscaping, the Mayor’s Strong Neighborhoods program, the Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation, and the Milwaukee Common Council.