Kane Commons, in which the project is located, was conceived as a community within a community, bringing together a diverse mix of people. Milwaukee’s East Village 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 complex includes 12 living units that 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.
This residence places a crucial role in defining the courtyard of Kane Commons. Located on the west side, it needed to be a sun block for the summer sun on the public areas, it had to contain additional parking for the entire complex and it had to act as a buffer to the adjacent dilapidated property next door.
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 and 12 units. 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.
Because of it orientation, large amount of glass needed to be place on the east elevation to allow for interaction with the courtyard and the neighboring homes.