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Featured Project

Green Infrastructure at the new Summerfest Administration Building
City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Project Description

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. (MWF) owns, operates and produces “Summerfest”, The World’s Largest Music Festival®, which is an 11 day summer music festival. Stormwater Solutions Engineering, LLC worked MWF/Summerfest to apply for and receive grant funding and design green infrastructure for the new Administration Building along the shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI.

The project site was a former brownfield, comprised of various landfill materials, including foundry sands. Located on the site was an existing maintenance building that Milwaukee World Festival converted to serve as the new Summerfest Administration Building for its full time staff of over 40 employees. Given the site conditions and the proximity to Lake Michigan, stormwater goals for the site include reducing stormwater runoff to the combined sewer, while preventing stormwater from infiltrating into the contaminated soils.

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Our Solution

Stormwater Solutions Engineering, LLC (SSE) assisted Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. to apply and receive grant funding from Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and the Fund for Lake Michigan, to manage the site stormwater runoff through the use of green infrastructure. A 3,650 square foot bioswale, east of the new office building, was designed to treat and store water from the existing building roof. The existing roof drains were disconnected from the combined sewer and diverted to the bioswale. A bioswale (see detail) is essentially a rain garden with an engineered mix of soil, a perforated under drain, a stone storage area and an overflow pipe for saturated or frozen ground conditions. We refer to them as a friendlier term “biogarden”. From the surface, they appear to be a landscaped depression with Wisconsin native water-loving plants, which are also tolerant of dry conditions in summer months.

Summerfest Administration Building

In addition to the bioswale, 2,000 square-feet of porous pavement was designed to collect runoff from the parking lot. Porous pavement is also referred to as permeable pavement, because it allows the movement or infiltration of stormwater through the surface. The stormwater is treated as it moves through the pavement and an aggregate storage layer is located beneath the pavement, with an underdrain allowing slow release of filtered water. Porous pavement not only reduces stormwater runoff, but also filters out pollutants and traps suspended solids. The sidewalk at the front of the building contains sections of porous pavement to allow runoff from the walkway to be treated, but also serves as public education on stormwater management. Both the porous pavement and bioswales are lined to prevent infiltration and leaching of pollutants from the contaminated soils

SSE also teamed with new Eden Landscape Architecture to design a green roof for a small addition to the existing building. Vegetated soil packets and planters have been installed into an inviting space, allowing slowing and holding the roof runoff during rain events, while also providing a social environment for Summerfest staff and guests. In addition to stormwater benefits, the green roof also moderates the temperature of the roof, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Stormwater trees and native landscaping was incorporated throughout the site. Green infrastructure on this site captures and treats 44,990 gallons of stormwater before discharging to the storm sewer and ultimately, Lake Michigan.

This site serves as a high profile demonstration of green infrastructure in a highly urban environment. The Henry W. Maier Festival Park is home to Summerfest and hots a variety of ethnic and cultural festivals, walks, runs, concerts and other events each year. This project was named MMSD’s Green Infrastructure Signature Project for 2014 and the recipient of the MMSD Green Luminary Award in September, 2015.

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