Milwaukee headquartered engineering, planning and design firm GRAEF decided to move from its longtime home in a suburban-style office park to downtown. The company leased 37,500 square feet on the third floor of ‘The Avenue,’ once the food court of a 1980s-era shopping center that is being adapted into a mixed-use center with office space, apartments, and a food hall. The firm asked Valerio Dewalt Train (VDT) to help create the concept for the new office, with GRAEF handling the schematic design through construction documents phases.
To increase the leasable area within the high-volume space, VDT created a mezzanine beneath the third-floor skylights. The mezzanine is a circular structure clad with vertical, curving wooden fins that provide a warm, natural contrast to the building’s concrete structure. Illuminated by skylights and clerestories, the deck of the mezzanine is dedicated to collaborative workspaces.
Visitors arrive at a large, skylit area that also includes a training room and the main conference room. This space overlooks the Avenue’s beer hall, and extensive glazing provides views to historic Third Street. The 1980s shopping center incorporated the historic Plankinton Arcade Building, so it was possible to expose the historic terracotta detailing of what was once the Plankinton’s exterior in this space.
Curving circulation paths wind through the space, leading to the open offices that line the building. The café/break room includes access to an urban balcony that opens to the Avenue’s atrium, looking down on the first-floor food hall.
Design credits: GRAEF (Architect of Record); Valerio Dewalt Train (Design Architect; Interior Design).
Photography: Francisco Lopez de Arenosa