Westlawn Gardens Housing Redevelopment Milwaukee, WI

The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee is on a mission to revitalize a busy commercial area into what is becoming the largest public housing development in Wisconsin. Not only is the multi-family redevelopment a huge undertaking (with about 958 units!) but the Housing Authority also is focused on making the neighborhood healthy and sustainable. Phase 1 of the project involved raSmith’s diverse engineering staff. Because of this experience and that we offer a package of services under one roof, architect Torti Gallas + Partners engaged our firm in Phase 2.

Phase 2 of Westlawn Gardens called for a multi-disciplinary team of land development, traffic, structural and municipal engineers, surveyors and construction inspectors. Road corridors have been removed and some added. Using narrow streets to promote pedestrian safety and reduced speeds is unique to the project—and to Southeastern Wisconsin. Bioswales are used extensively in the public right-of-way so as not to flood streets. Additionally, permeable pavers and a high-tech underground stormwater detention system manage runoff and offer water quality benefits.

While Westlawn Gardens goes through a five-year construction period, this urban redevelopment’s benefits are already evident. Phase 1 ended in 2013 and received multiple awards. Plenty of green spaces, energy-efficient buildings and LEED® certification have led the U.S. Green Building Council to call Westlawn Gardens one of the most eco-friendly neighborhoods in the world. 

Westlawn Gardens was recently honored with the HUD Secretary’s Opportunity & Empowerment Award, which recognizes community planning excellence that leads to benefits for residents with low and moderate income levels.

Photos provided courtesy of Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc.

Freshwater Plaza Residential and Retail Front Entrance