Menomonee River Valley Redevelopment and Community Park

Milwaukee, WI

The revitalization of a derelict, industrial river valley

Once known as “Wisconsin’s biggest eyesore,” the former Milwaukee Road Shops and Airline Yards rail site located near downtown Milwaukee is now one of the largest brownfield redevelopment successes in Wisconsin history. For over ten years, Wenk Associates, worked with the City, the State of Wisconsin, and multiple nonprofit partners, to transform the 140-acre site.  What was once a marsh blighted by 125 years of fill and industrial contamination is now a job-rich, sustainably designed, industrial center with expansive parks and open spaces lining the restored Menomonee River.

The area’s transformation provides much-needed jobs, parks, connectivity, and access to nature for adjacent neighborhoods. A more resilient pattern of development that reduces flood risk and cleans and infiltrates storm runoff from industrial areas within the parks supports a series of native Wisconsin landscapes, and incorporates areas for active recreation and environmental education. The River is more accessible, and ecologically diverse.

Menomonee Valley Community Park incorporates multiple opportunities for active recreation, and integrates all stormwater treatment for the adjacent industrial development. The stormwater treatment areas, which occupy roughly half of the park area, are developed over capped contaminated soils, 18 inches (20,000 cubic yards) of concrete rubble generated from highway demolition, and a constructed soil profile that filters contaminated urban runoff. The treatment areas support a linked series of seven landscape typologies indigenous to Southern Wisconsin, which range from mesic prairie to swamp forest, and connect to the Menomonee River.

Three Bridges Park is a 24-acre open space formed by a series of hills created by capping 300,000 cubic yards of contaminated building debris. The open space mimics the landforms and ecology of Wisconsin’s glacial landscapes, and the local valleys that link the uplands to the Menomonee River. Three pedestrian bridges and a restored underpass (that originally connected the railyards to adjacent neighborhoods) provide multiple access opportunities for local residents.

The Menomonee Valley project was featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine, April 2016.



City of Milwaukee
Menomonee Valley Partners, Inc.




Site Infrastructure: HNTB (Milwaukee, WI)
Environmental Remediation Planning: CH2M Hill (Milwaukee, WI)
General Contractor: Edgerton Contractor, Inc. (Oak Creek, WI)
Landscape Restoration: Applied Ecological Services (Broadhead, WI)
Landscape Contractor: Marek Landscaping (Milwaukee, WI)                                                      

Civil Engineering: Benesch (Milwaukee, WI)
General Contractor: Lunda Construction Company (Waukesha, WI)
Landscape Restoration Plan: Marek Landscaping (Milwaukee, WI)
Landscape Contractor: Conservation Land Stewardship, LLC (Elmhurst, IL)


Waterfront Center Award, Honor Award, 2016

WTS Wisconsin Recognition Award, Project of the Year, 2013 (Three Bridges Park)

American Trails Organization, Trail Advocacy Award(Hank Aaron State Trail), 2010

USEPA Conference, “People’s Choice” Award for Brownfield Redevelopment, New Orleans, 2009

USEPA Region 5, Phoenix Award for Excellence in Brownfield Redevelopment, 2009

Brownfield Renewal Magazine, Grand Prize for Environmental Remediation, 2009

Mayor or Milwaukee’s Urban Design Awards, Winner, 2007

Wisconsin Builder Awards, “Top Projects of 2007”, 2007

American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Wisconsin Engineering Excellence Awards, “Best in State” in Environmental, 2007

Sierra Club nomination, One of 10 “Best New Development Projects”, 2006

American Society of Landscape Architects, National Merit Award for Analysis and Planning, 2003

American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado Chapter, Honor Award for Design,2002

American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado Chapter, Land Stewardship Award, 2002

Menomonee River Valley National Design Competition, 2002