The Fonz (Yes as in Happy Days)

The Fonz (Yes as in Happy Days)

With nearly three miles of walkway along the Milwaukee River, the existing downtown river walk is an amenity that serves as a highly used, year-round pedestrian thoroughfare.  Constructed largely of piling supported precast members and decorative panels, the river walk segments traverse a wide variety of grade differences and conditions.  The City has made a concerted effort in the last few years to address ADA compliance and accessibility issues, which have traditionally limited access to certain portions of the river walk.   The newest of the river walk improvements produced by Mid-States Concrete Industries, is a lift tower, which was designed to accommodate a traditional wheel chair lift, within a precast tower structure which protects and enhances the appearance of a standard lift unit, in an outdoor environment.

The Riverwalk project (click to view pictures) in Milwaukee, WI is a unique project in a couple of ways. The structure was erected from a barge. This took a good deal of planning between the CM, Gilbane, the precast project manager and the barge company, Gillen. The project was an important addition to the river walk area. It is used to provide handicap access between the upper and lower levels. It also has a statue of “The Fonz” in front of it.

PACE Architects chose precast over various other materials because of it’s inherent durability, flexible assembly attributes and the ability to produce detailed components in a controlled environment to achieve consistent results.  Precast planks and decorative panels gave the team the ability to produce a structure with thinner, lighter components, which still appeared “substantial” as a final product.  Additionally precast allowed for the ability to hide the metal lift structure, embed weld-plates for support of the roof system and accommodate anchoring of sunshades to the various faces of the tower.

Brian Kobasick, Architect/Principal stated: “It just made sense to opt for precast as the material that would “deliver on design” and stand-up to long term use in a public environment.”   “We couldn’t be happier with Mid-States’ attention to detail and the care and efforts that their team brought to this project.” 

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