Recent LA grad’s senior thesis project wins national design competition

A visionary master plan for Milwaukee’s SOHI district made recent CALS graduate Lucie Frohlichova the winner of the 2006 Wayne Grace Memorial Student Design Competition from the Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards.

Frohichova’s entry was her yearlong senior thesis project from the Department of Landscape Architecture. The plan focused on the SOHI district, located along North 27th Street between Highland Boulevard and St. Paul Avenue (and named for its location SOuth of HIghland). The district is designated as one of Milwaukee’s four Main Street communities. SOHI, along with the other Main Street neighborhoods, are part of an overall revitalization program run by the Milwaukee’s Department of City Development (DCD) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

The winning plan, titled “Improving Social and Sustainable Patterns in the SOHI Main Street District” explores how utilization of Smart Growth guidelines can help with revitalization efforts in the neighborhood. Frohlichova worked with the SOHI Design Committee, co-chaired by Brian Scotty and James Steiner of Quorum Architects, along with Keith Stanley, the SOHI District’s Main Street Manager. Steiner is also a part-time faculty member at UW Madison.

Frohichova’s plan focuses on the portion of the SOHI district that runs from Highland Boulevard to W. Michigan Avenue. This area is currently a mix of retail, multi-family housing, vacant lots, and commercial office space, some in deteriorating condition. Frolichova’s main goals included ways to guide future development, improve existing structures that have architectural integrity, encourage safe and lively pedestrian activity, and create activity “nodes” for entertainment and recreation. Additional challenges for this area include high traffic volume along 27th Street, the lack of vegetated areas, and narrow sidewalks. Some of Frohlichova’s solutions proposed narrowing the street, creating off-street parking areas to reduce traffic volume, the addition of street trees, public plazas and other planted areas.

Sustainable features found in the plan include bioswales to collect water runoff, permeable paving, use of native plants, and the promotion of “green roofs” to collect and hold rainwater as a way to reduce stormwater runoff.

Professors Sue Thering and Shawn Kelley of the Department of Landscape Architecture in Madison mentored Frohlichova on the development of this project. The SOHI Master Plan is an example of how the Landscape Architecture Department’s Capstone Program helps local communities generate visionary design ideas for future growth.