Award Winner - May 2013
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Milwaukee Community Sailing Center

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

HGA Architects and Engineers in Milwaukee

Size: 5,400 square feet

Project Cost: $1.64 million

Quick Tour:

  • Toilet rooms with showers
  • Two small classrooms
  • Administration area
  • Large multipurpose room with small kitchen

Since its founding in 1977, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center has provided more than 100,000 people the opportunity to sail and has taught more than 20,000 people the sport. The nonprofit organization can now continue and expand on its mission, thanks to a new 5,400-square-foot facility completed in January 2010.

The design of the building responds to the organization's desire to change its profile in community by creating an open, welcoming invitation to the city and all who dream of sailing. Located on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee's Veterans Park, the new facility cost only $1.64 million to build. A modest facility, it was designed to work within the nonprofit organization's limited financial means, but at the same time, it sets an impressive environmental benchmark.

The program provides toilet rooms with showers, two small classrooms, a small administration area and a large multipurpose room supported by a small kitchen. The two-story building features a wide first floor circulation lobby with built-in benches. The facility showcases its lakefront location as well as views of the downtown skyline in the upper-level Community Room, designed as a flexible space that can be used for teaching, an informal gathering place or for special events. The room is designed to allow the Center to support its bottom line via facility rental.

The new Sailing Center expands eater access for Milwaukee area residents, working with inner city groups to allow underprivileged children to experience the joy of sailing for the first time. The Center maintains a large fleet of boats that anybody can use for a modest fee once they've taken a safety course through the center. Reaching out to Milwaukee's inner city youth is a major initiative for the organization, and the new building enables the center to quadruple its teaching capacity.

Aesthetically, the curved, barrel-vaulted roof recalls the curved hull shapes of the boats in the adjacent harbor. The new building is white, like the boats owned by the center. Marine stainless steel cables and rods are used for railings and tension ties of the bow-strung roof arches, a detailing character similar to the rigging of a sailboat.

Since no natural gas was available on the remote lakefront site, the team designed a geothermal exchange system as an on-site, energy-efficient alternative energy resource. Composed of 13 300-foot-deep wells, the deep geothermal exchange system provides all the heating and cooling. The building also features green materials and other resource conservation efforts, from insulation strategies and overhangs designed to keep the building warm in winter and cool in summer to low-cost, low-maintenance materials that are fully recyclable and more.


W H A T   T H E   J U D G E S   S A I D

"Overall a notable achievement, given the tight budget, and impressive sustainability attributes."

Bill Massey

"Took advantage of geothermal opportunity."

Katie Barnes

"The use of cable rail evokes images of sailboat safety lines. Elegant plan."

Matt Freeby

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers

Civil Engineer: Kapur & Associates Inc.

ME, Structural Engineer: HGA Architects and Engineers

General Contractor: Oliver Construction Co.

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