Dean Robert Greenstreet and commissioner Rocky Marcoux explained the “town/gown” relationship that links UWM and Milwaukee in a presentation Thursday that showed Milwaukee’s progress during the recession.
Both speakers explained why UWM is an important component in Milwaukee’s ability to create award winning structures during a time of economic downturn.
The idea of a “town/gown” relationship structurally links the School of Architecture and Urban Planning to the mayor’s office and the Department of City Development, said Greenstreet and Marcoux.
Greenstreet acknowledged that “times are tough” but said he is pleased with the progress the city has made.
“Even during its worst times of the recession, Milwaukee’s done a really good job in its planning and design,” said Greenstreet. “And the next decade is going to be really, really busy and we’re going to see a lot of development and this recession will be behind us soon.”
Numerous structures in Milwaukee have received awards, including the Milwaukee Art Museum and its Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering, and the Walgreens near the UWM campus, a recipient of “best face” in the Mayor’s Urban Design Awards.
“Milwaukee and UWM Matters: Planning and Designing Our Way Out of the Recession” was held in the fourth floor conference center of the Golda Meir Library Thursday evening. The speakers engaged roughly 75 citizens, students and Friends of the library in attendance.
Greenstreet has been a member of the UWM faculty for 30 years and has held the role dean of Architecture and Urban Planning since 1991.
He was invited by Mayor Tom Barrett to become the Director of Planning and Design for the city of Milwaukee in 2003 while still maintaining his role at the university.
Greenstreet and Commissioner of city development Marcoux spoke on behalf of the Friends of the Golda Meir Library, an organization to promote the libraries’ leadership in teaching, research and public service.
“Everything is not negative in fact; most things are positive,” said Marcoux. “We have amenities that can stack-up against any city in the United States for quality of life, affordability, obviously our Lake Michigan shoreline.”
He and Greenstreet both presented power points to demonstrate Milwaukee’s designs and portray the architecture and planning that have been implemented into the city before and during the recession.
With this, the speakers assessed why UWM is so important to the city. UWM graduates and alum assisted in much of the architectural landscape and design, including a number of award winning designs which were displayed in both power point presentations.
“It’s very reassuring to hear a presentation like this,” said Rusty Biesterfeld, an architecture student present at the event. “I’m happy to hear that Milwaukee is better off that I thought, which bodes better for future jobs.”
Greenstreet graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 1983 with a Ph. D in architecture. He received the national Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor Award in 1998.
Greenstreet revisited a theme of “fabric” throughout the talk, describing how each thread is equally important a piece of fabric – similar to each piece of a city. He offered various examples to why he felt this analogy was effective:
- “The whole must exceed the sum of the parts,” said Greenstreet.
- “Every single thread is important because every single thing in our city is important, not just the big fancy buildings downtown.”
He explained how it wouldn’t be effective to only worry about the middle of a sheet of fabric and not the edges. The same situation applies to a city, according to Greenstreet, who explained that the downtown can’t only be addressed, but the suburbs and surrounding areas are important as well.
Marcoux earned his degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee and has worked as Commissioner for the Department of City Development since 2004.
He oversaw the large-scale and successful redevelopment of the Menomonee Valley which was largely industrial prior to construction.
Marcoux, who spoke for the latter part of the presentation, continued with the fabric theme.
“We have to make the city a viable option … weaving cultures together, weaving neighborhoods together,” said Marcoux.
Although job loss has raised concern throughout the city, Marcoux says the preservation jobs in Milwaukee has “been key” to weaving the city together.
Friends of the Library
Friends of Golda Meir Library was founded in 1975 with intent to heighten community awareness and advance the libraries’ purpose.
Director of the library Ewa Barczyk described UWM as an integral piece of the city.
“The university is that thread that weaves through the city … and the library is a venue to bring people together and draw them here,” said Barczyk.
The Friends have 434 members and counting said Barczyk.
President of the library Sarah Kimball said she encouraged interested citizens to consider becoming a member of the group she regards as “wonderful and cohesive within the university.”
“You won’t regret it, it’s very rewarding,” said Kimball. “The caliber of people on our board helps to create a certain band.”
Suzy Ettinger, a Friends board member, referred to the event as “important and stimulating.”
“This makes people feel as if our state and our state and our city are improving and we have a lot to look forward to. We are lucky to have a major university to keep students in the city and help with our rebuilding efforts.”