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Delight of the Unexpected: The Third Ward’s Bamboo Grove

by Janice Christensen
Bamboo

It seems like everybody’s talking about the bamboo grove planned for a public plaza in the Third Ward.

What will become the plaza is currently a patch of asphalt at the end of Erie Street near the end of the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic rivers. It’s classic Milwaukee: the “Polish moon” of the Allen- Bradley clock tower and the sweep of the Hoan Bridge in the background. And bamboo.

Dramatic lighting and street furniture will make the plaza a welcoming place for strollers and runners. A system of immersion heaters in pools created by storm water run-off will create a steamy ecosystem in winter, warming the exotic plants.

Construction is scheduled to begin in March, with plans for completion by the opening of Summerfest in July. The design was chosen from a field of 38 contenders in a competition sponsored by the city. The project is being underwritten by a tax incremental financing (TIF) funds earmarked for public space improvements. The TIF funds have been generated largely by projected increased property taxes from nearby condominium developments.

The design was created by Stoss Landscape Urbanism of Boston in collaboration with Milwaukee’s Vetter Denk Architects.

Riverwest Currents online edition – February, 2006