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University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee | Cambridge Commons

HGA Architects and Engineers

Shared By

A. Hitchcock

Project Name

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee | Cambridge Commons

Project Status



UWM Real Estate Foundation


  • General Contractor: KBS Construction, Inc.

Certifications and Designations

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Project Description

From the AIA:

Cambridge Commons, a new residence hall for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is located along the city’s busy North Avenue where it crosses the deep ravine created by the Milwaukee River. According to the jury, “The entire complex integrates nicely into the urban neighborhood.” Designed to house primarily freshman students, the 700-bed residence also provides first-floor common spaces, including a dining hall, laundry room, fitness facility and four classrooms, resting above a parking structure. The residence halls are three separate masses arranged in a U-shape around a courtyard that faces the forested river bluff. The building facades line the urban street edges and offer a selection of retail businesses and a café open to the public. The courtyard encourages outdoor activities. Enclosed glass bridges connect the buildings and present additional study space, lounges, bountiful daylight and distant views of the city. The five upper floors house the student rooms as well as common living rooms with kitchens to meet and socialize. Exterior building materials of brick and dark metal articulate a clean horizontal design. The building includes sustainable design features such as green roofs, porous pavements and rain gardens of native plants.

Jury Comment: “Through its campus and urban design solution, this building is making special internal and external gestures. By sitting the ground floor on top of the parking garage and creating the courtyard, the entire complex integrates nicely into the urban neighborhood. There also is a pleasant and wonderfully consistent relationship between the exterior and interior, with a lot of daylight. We like that the architect resisted the temptation to make the lawn a patio deck, choosing instead to create a recreational area for active sports and play. This underscores the directness of the project.”

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