On January 11, 2023, Harley-Davidson and London-based architectural firm Heatherwick Studio announced plans to repurpose and transform a central element of Harley-Davidson’s headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The goal of redeveloping its Juneau Avenue campus into a public park is to benefit its employees and help revitalize its hometown community.
Overseeing the overall creative delivery of the project, Heatherwick Studio, has been commissioned to conceive a design that will transform the concrete site into a civic and soulful green gathering space that can be used by everyone, including employees and the local community.
“Our goal is to turn this historic factory land into a new public park for the people of Milwaukee. We want to make an exciting community space where people can come together with friends and family and experience the wildness of nature alongside spaces for food, performance and play. The ambition is to highlight and celebrate renewed life in the Near West Side of this very special city,” said Thomas Heatherwick.
At the heart of the park is “The Hub”, a sunken multi-use events space, 83 meters (approximately 272 feet) wide with tiered seating, set among lush plants and trees.
The design promotes the idea of togetherness for the community, riders and employees alike.
Its circular layout is defined by a combination of motorcycle driveways and turning circles, parking bays, sidewalks, plants and seats, and 360-degree viewpoints.
The Hub will be built with 10 types of locally sourced brick, natural wany-edge timber, and weathered steel with a beautifully warm patina.
In one direction, the Hub will provide views of the handsome brick buildings of the original home of Harley-Davidson.
In the other, visitors will see a park sown with 120 native plant species, including 20 species of trees and 100 species of perennials, some of which are sacred to the Forest County Potawatomi.
There are also plans for a market street, contemplative garden, and nature playground.
The initial development will be overseen and funded by The Harley-Davidson Foundation with longer-term sponsorship and donor-opportunities, to further enhance the project, being made available in the future.
“Milwaukee is the place we have proudly called home for 120 years. We want Harley-Davidson’s presence in Milwaukee to be more relevant than ever before, for our community, employees and our customers,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson.
“It’s important to us to protect and enhance this part of our heritage in a way that is aligned to our strategy, ensuring that it will be relevant to generations to come. Kicking the project off in our 120th year underscores both the importance of the project and the commitment that we are making to Milwaukee. We are very proud by the work of the Harley-Davidson Foundation in spearheading this project, which builds on the $30 million donated by the Motor Company to the Foundation since 2020,” he concluded.
Throughout the project, Heatherwick will act as Design Guardian, collaborating with local firms.
HGA, a Milwaukee architectural firm, as architect of record providing civil engineering, landscape, lighting, and technology design.
Greenfire Management Services, a Near West Side business and diverse supplier will ensure the project realizes its potential to become an important part of the Milwaukee landscape that reflects both Harley-Davidson’s values and its transformative aspirations for the community.
The community park development is set to break ground in spring of 2023 with the park available for use by summer 2024.
Images courtesy of Harley-Davidson, Inc.