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Today, the Bronzeville Center for the Arts’ (BCA) Board of Directors announced its selection of M&E Architects+Engineers as the lead architect for its highly anticipated destination arts museum in the heart of Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood.
“BCA exists to increase our collective knowledge and engagement with African American art, art history and artists,” said Kristen Hardy, a Milwaukee attorney and president of BCA’s Board. “As a Black-led firm with deep roots in our community, M&E Architects+Engineers shares our vision and is the right partner to help us bring it to life.”
BCA seeks to transform its 3.4-acre site into a campus, including a 50,000-square-foot facility. It will feature exhibitions, education and immersive artistic programming designed to engage audiences of all ages.
“The BCA’s destination arts museum will be an incredible addition to a revitalized Bronzeville,” said City of Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs. “Milwaukee’s Bronzeville is the place to be – from The New York Times to local and national investors – the world is taking notice and projects like BCA’s arts museum are the reason why.”
M&E ARCHITECTS+ENGINEERS TEAMING WITH HGA TO BRING BCA VISION TO LIFE
Headquartered in Milwaukee, M&E Architects+Engineers has more than three decades of expertise as an interdisciplinary design firm focused on bridging the gap between architecture and environment. With a focus on architectural design rooted in social and environmental fabric, and collaboration with stakeholders, the minority-owned firm is highly sought after and has worked on projects such as the Sojourner Family Peace Center and Fiserv Forum. M&E Architects+Engineers will serve as the Architect of Record for the museum project.
“Without art, there is no culture,” said Isaac Menyoli, President of M&E Architects+Engineers. “This is an incredible opportunity to help define the look and feel of an institution that will represent the African American arts community for generations. Coupled with an array of development projects underway in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood, this project will be both a tribute to the rich history of the neighborhood and an investment in its future.”
HGA will partner with M&E Architects+Engineers to provide design and technical support. HGA’s team will include Design Principal Peter Cook, FAIA, NOMA, who was a lead design collaborator on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Terri Howard, HGA’s Director of Equity.
“Developing the design in partnership with M&E Architects+Engineers is an excellent opportunity to combine our unique skills and experience to create something remarkable,” said HGA’s Peter Cook.
HGA will also provide mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and structural engineering, assisted by black-owned engineering firm, Milwaukee-based Zoe Engineering LLC, OTIE on Fire Protection and with M&E Architects+Engineers assisting on structural engineering. Other local partners include Saiki Design for landscape design and K. Singh on civil engineering. Schuler Shook is the theater consultant with SM&W on acoustics. Emem Group rounds out the team, serving as the Owner’s Representative for the project.
Founded in 2014, Emem Group is a Milwaukee-based real estate firm that specializes in owner’s representation of commercial real estate development. Emem Group has been instrumental in securing the development site and architect team.
“The vision for the BCA is to bring African American art and artists to the forefront of our collective knowledge,” said Michael Emem, President and CEO of the Emem Group, who has been recognized as an up-and-coming executive to watch in the Milwaukee development community. “I believe we have the right team in place to do just that.”
The project will be located on a 3.4-acre parcel on the northeast corner of North Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in the heart of Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood. BCA’s vision is to transform the site into a campus to develop and house an art collection and programming space as well as a public plaza and garden.
EMPOWERING AFRICAN AMERICAN VENDORS
In partnership with the BCA, M&E Architects+Engineers is committed to empowering local African American vendors and providing hands-on, real-life training and skill building opportunities.
“This project is about engaging and empowering our community,” said Hardy. “At all levels of this project – from design to construction to programming – we want to ensure Black voices have a seat at the table and a hand in leading the charge.”
PUBLIC INPUT KEY TO PATH FORWARD
The announcement kickstarts the design process as well as public input opportunities, including to weigh in on desired BCA programming.
“From day one, the BCA Board has been clear about its commitment to engaging the community throughout the process of bringing this cultural and arts development to life,” said Terri Howard, Director of Equity at HGA. “In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be bringing a diverse range of stakeholders to the table to best understand the needs of the community, so we can craft programming – and the campus to house it.”
Potential programming opportunities include:
- Museum-quality exhibitions of the visual arts;
- Educational programs, lecture series and panel discussions, both live and virtual, career opportunities, creative entrepreneurship, among others;
- Hands-on art workshops that explore various techniques with an emphasis on teaching creative skills, as well as intellectual and professional development; and
- Performance space to become an added support system for other art disciplines.
ABOUT BRONZEVILLE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Established in 2020, the Bronzeville Center for the Arts (BCA) was created to highlight and celebrate African American art. Located in Bronzeville – a historically African American neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the BCA invites people of all ages to engage with its dynamic exhibitions and enriching educational programming. The BCA seeks to advance institutional equity, connect intergenerational audiences, and provide a place for people to experience intellectual and cultural exchange.
The BCA promotes current and future artists and art professionals by opening a lens to the history and heritage of Black artists. Central to the BCA’s mission is removing barriers from the enjoyment of art and forging a future that is more creative, connected, and historically informed. Bronzeville’s bustling entrepreneurial and artistic history serve as the foundation for the BCA, inspiring us to continue to honor and embody this multifaceted heritage. Learn more at www.BCAMKE.org.
ABOUT M&E ARCHITECTS+ENGINEERS
Established in 1989, M&E ARCHITECTS+ENGINEERS, LLC is an interdisciplinary design firm intent on bridging the gap between architecture and environment. Our practice is tailored on CONTEXT: architecture rooted in its social and environmental fabric; SYNERGY: holistic collaboration between all stakeholders; INTEGRITY: enhanced human experience throughout the process. These core values were not concocted at the inception of our practice but have become the DNA on which our practice has been flourishing.
HGA is a national interdisciplinary design firm committed to making a positive, lasting impact for our clients and communities through research-based, holistic solutions. We believe that great design requires a sense of curiosity—forming deep insight into our clients, their contexts, and the human condition. We are a collective of over 1,000 architects, engineers, interior designers, planners, researchers, and strategists. Our practice spans multiple markets, including cultural, education, corporate, local and federal government, healthcare, and science and technology. Visit HGA.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
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