Kane Commons was conceived as a community within a community, bringing together a diverse mix of people. Milwaukee’s East Village, where the site is located, is a densely populated enclave of turn of the century working family homes and is protected from over development by a Conservation Overlay District with strict historic requirements. The Owner’s program for the site was to provide 12 living units that would attract a variety of people with different needs. It also included a common courtyard shared by pedestrians and vehicles and the bluff to the river which has been restored with native plantings. Two existing structures were required to be saved and renovated by the Conservation District. Two new homes built along the street also had to meet the historic requirements of the district. The remaining 5 structures had to incorporate single family homes and additional garage space to meet the needs of the entire complex. Environmentally sensitive design was an overriding requirement of the Owner.
The site had many opportunities to push the limits of the design. Besides the Conservation District, the land is a brown field, contaminated with industrial fill to a depth of 40 feet. The program density required close interplay between all 9 buildings. The inclusion of environmental design elements which included geothermal HVAC, green roofs, rain water management and bluff restoration had a major impact, both visible and concealed, on the entire project.