Merit Award Winner

Project Name:  Drexal Town Square 
Location:  Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Design Team:  GRAEF, Rinka+ Architects 

Oak Creek was a fast-growing suburb of Milwaukee, but the sprawling community lacked one key amenity: a downtown. So, it created one. The result was Drexel Town Square, a $200 million vibrant 21st century downtown, where Oak Creek’s residents can live, work, play, shop, dine, receive medical treatment, and even retire. For the new downtown to become successful, it was imperative that it drew interest through creative and unique landscape design features that were both functional and experiential.

Built in the center of the city on a long-vacant Delphi manufacturing site, Drexel Town Square is Oak Creek’s new city center and features thriving restaurants, stores, apartments, Oak Creek’s new city hall and public library, a hotel, a medical center, offices, a large wetland park, and a central town square plaza. 

The two major public features of the project are the Town Square and the Wetland Park, which acts as a critical component of the sustainable stormwater management system. 

  • Set at the feet of Oak Creek’s iconic new city hall clock tower, the Town Square is the heart of their new city center.  It’s a showcase space designed and programmed to accommodate large community events such as farmer’s markets, concerts, food truck events, art fairs, and other locally-supported activities. The space also includes a splash pad for children in the summer.

  • After fully remediating certain areas of the Delphi site’s contamination, the wetland park was developed into a large-scale, community open space amenity that provides recreational opportunities, valuable wildlife habitat and functions as part of the project’s sustainable stormwater management system; which can detain a 100-year storm event, treat all of the site’s parking lot stormwater, infiltrate and recharge the groundwater table, and help enhance the ecological balance of the existing wetlands.  100% of the site’s stormwater is now captured and treated within its own watershed, where it previously left almost 80% of the stormwater runoff untreated. The stormwater infrastructure, although invisible to the average dog walker or splash pad user, is the hidden hero of the project.

  • The wetland park’s location presented a perfect opportunity to blend the existing natural site conditions (existing wetlands, ponds, open areas, & mature woods), with the project’s large-scale, sustainable stormwater treatment system.