Urban Ecology Center


Urban Ecology Center


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


6,500 SF



The Urban Ecology Center is a 6,500-square-foot renovation/addition to an abandoned 1930s-era tavern in the Silver City neighborhood of Milwaukee. The project exemplifies sustainable building practices from the use of salvaged materials to a passive-solar air intake system and geothermal-sourced heating and cooling.

The Center is using the tavern’s original bar as its reception counter, and the tavern’s original stained-glass windows are featured on the first floor. The building exterior is Cream City brick that was reclaimed from the Red Star Yeast building, and the canopy is constructed from reclaimed heavy timbers.

The interior includes existing wood floors that were patched, refinished, and supplemented from the Brookfield Central High School gym, the wood trim is ash from downed urban trees, and the lower level toilet partitions were reclaimed from the north side Wal-Mart. The pocket doors were salvaged from a Milwaukee mansion with the door handle taken from a keg cooler formerly in the basement of the tavern, and the wood sheathing from the bar is exposed from the stairwell.

Located next to the Valley Passage, this dynamic educational building anchors a 27-acre urban renewal project and outdoor classroom along the Menomonee River.


  • Mayor’s Design Award
  • ASID Wisconsin Design Excellence Award – Education – Gold