Milwaukee is experiencing unprecedented development in downtown, but the benefits of which are not extending to economically vulnerable communities. As a form of tactical urbanism, the Mobile Design Box (MDB) was initiated in 2014 as a partnership between the School and community allies in select commercial corridors to activate vacant storefronts in neighborhoods surrounding downtown. MDB is a partnership between residents, BIDS, arts organizations, developers, Milwaukee’s DCD, cultural institutions, and the School to convert vacant commercial spaces in neighborhoods into temporary hubs for community, arts, and education. The long-term intent is to generate a new lessee for the space, then relocate the MDB into another vacant storefront in the neighborhood and start over.

Each corridor has undergone a resident engaged planning process for redevelopment that is aligned with several comprehensive commercial corridor plans articulated within a citywide initiative called MKE United. This action plan works to ensure that investments are extending from downtown into neighborhood corridors towards a more inclusive and vibrant community.

Key objectives are to attract investment in commercial corridors and reduce vacant properties; improve the quality of life for residents; make each corridor safer and change negative perceptions; attract new tenants and potential investors; provide high-quality arts, design, and opportunities for civic engagement for residents; build social cohesion and strengthen the unique identity of each corridor, and connect students from the School to real world projects and venues for community engagement.

The Mobile Design Box has occupied 3 empty storefronts since 2014
The North End
(1551 N. Water St. currently Birch + Butcher), in partnership with Mandel, Inc.

The Historic Pritzlaff Building
in partnership with Kendall Breunig, Sunset Investors

Near West Side (Historic Concordia neighborhood 753 North 27th Street)
in partnership with Wiegand Enterprises, Near West Side Partners, Quorum Architects, Marquette University Social Innovation Initiative

Exhibitions

2018

April
People and Places: ARCH 320 design studio curated by Assistant Professor Kyle Reynolds shows the active and passive relationships between architecture and people. ZIP MKE 100 Milwaukee photos curated by Dominic Inouye, highlighting residents, architecture, and the relationship between the two at Near West Side (Historic Concordia neighborhood) at 753 North 27th Street, funding partner Wiegand Enterprises

January
LIGHT MEDIUM Dark: Sculpting Daylight with Architecture, studio work from Associate Professor Kyle Talbott and “Studies in Space, a cinematic study in movement and architecture” film by Tate Bunker, Award-winning filmmaker at Near West Side (Historic Concordia neighborhood) at 753 North 27th Street, funding partner Wiegand Enterprises

2017
October
Little Details, Encaustic Artist Michael Westcott,UWM SARUP alumni Sarah Traver Billy Mikich, and student work from Highland Ave School at Near West Side (Historic Concordia neighborhood) at 753 North 27th Street, funding partner Wiegand Enterprises

July
Historic Preservation Studio, Matt Jarosz; WasteCap WI
exhibit of “upcycled” reclaimed building components and Fresh Perspectives Artist Group that utilize their reclaimed components in their art at Near West Side (Historic Concordia neighborhood) at 753 North 27th Street, funding partner Wiegand Enterprises

April
Towards a Cinematic Architecture, Assistant Professor Jasmine Benyamin and Avenues West Community Art Project: “Together we can” Connect a Neighborhood”, Future Milwaukee, Ali Kopyt at Near West Side (Historic Concordia neighborhood) at 753 North 27th Street, funding partner Wiegand Enterprises

January
Place Acts, Associate Professor Arijit Sen and Express Yourself Milwaukee, Muneer Bahauddeen at Near West Side (Historic Concordia neighborhood) at 753 North 27th Street, funding partner Wiegand Enterprises

2016
January
Institute of Ecological Design, Professor Jim Wasley and Joint Effort Studio, Jesse Damrow,
at The Historic Pritzlaff Building, funding partner Kendall Breunig, Sunset Investors

January
Milwaukee Arts Barge, SARUP Fellow Antonio Furgiuele and Mobility Matters, ReciproCITY, at The North End, funding partner Mandel, Inc.

2015
October
From Waste to Wonder Studio, Assistant Prof Nikole Bouchard and beintween, Keith Hayes, at The North End, funding partner Mandel, Inc.

July
Community Design Solutions, Professor Carolyn Esswein; Public artist, Jill Sebastian and Woodworker, Matthew Gramling, at The North End, funding partner Mandel, Inc.

January
Sou Fujimoto Architects, Marcus Prize Winner Sou Fujimoto and Furniture, Ryan Tretow (Milwaukee Creative Entrepreneur), at The North End, funding partner Mandel, Inc.