Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Project team: Brian Johnsen, AIA; Sebastian Schmaling, AIA
Project Area: 836 sqm
Project year: 2007
Photographs: Kevin Miyazaki
Valentin Blatz Brewing Company was an American beer producer from 1851 to 1959. It’s home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is now on the national register of historic places, a central part of Milwaukee’s brewing history. In the 1980s, the vacant building was rehabbed to house offices and apartments, referred to on the street as “The Blatz”. Today, The Blatz has been fully refreshed by Johnsen Schmaling Architects, using some of the building’s own history (and product) in it’s eco-conscious design.
The Blatz building’s lower level lounge features a series of doors constructed of empty beer bottles. Each of these doors is nine feet tall and just over nine feet wide, pivoting smoothly on a central axis. These bright amber doors open and close to partition off smaller, more intimate areas of the lounge– or open wide for a larger experience. The bottles themselves are true to Blatz Brewing, having been recovered from a basement storage area and given duty again in the building’s new purpose.
The roof pavilion consists of a simple steel superstructure constructed from a set of prefabricated shop-assembled elements that were lifted up onto the roof by a crane and connected in the field. A kit of polyacrylic sheets can be attached to the trellis beams for overhead screening. Thin LED strips are mounted to the underside of the trellis beams to provide ambiance lighting for the terrace. Simultaneously, the illuminated roof pavilion activates the corner of the building and transforms into a small neighborhood beacon, visible from dozens of blocks away.