Project created a new 21st century downtown GRAEF Receives Merit Award for Design of Oak Creek’s Drexel Town Square


The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects awarded GRAEF a Merit Award for the design of Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek, WI.

Oak Creek is a fast-growing suburb of Milwaukee, but the sprawling community lacked one key amenity: a downtown. So, with our help, in association with Rinka Architects, the city created a downtown.

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, a new city hall and public library, a hotel, a medical center, offices, a large wetland park, a splash pad 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.

The project was jointly developed by the city and Wispark LLC.

Oak Creek Mayor Dan Bukiewicz said the city’s residents are now reaping the benefits of the design and amenities of Drexel Town Square.

“The City of Oak Creek had a vision that Drexel Town Square could serve as a new location for our city hall and library and one day become a community gathering place,” Bukiewicz said. “It was designed to be an environmentally friendly, functional space for public gathering, all while being a thriving residential and business area. Drexel Town Square’s design exceeded all that we could have hoped for and met all our expectations for a true brownfield redevelopment site. The architecture design and landscapes have made it become the heart and soul of the City of Oak Creek.”

The Merit Award was given during a ceremony at the Italian Community Center in downtown Milwaukee.

The judges of the Wisconsin Chapter ASLA awards were landscape architects from the Sierra Chapter from California. The judges’ comments about the Drexel Town Square project included: “Nice plan and diverse spatial use. Great coordination with science. Looks natural (undesigned) with great access elements … This project is a fantastic way to show visitors how to be more sustainable, yet fully functional.”

The Merit Award was presented to GRAEF project manager and principal-in-charge Pat Kressin. Accepting the award on Kressin’s behalf Wednesday night were GRAEF's project landscape architect Erik Schmitt and landscape practice area leader Joseph Pepitone.

Drexel Town Square also was featured in a recent episode about Oak Creek on “Around the Corner With John McGivern,” a Milwaukee PBS television show (