Christopher Ludwig, AIA
Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?
Kahler Slater – I am an architect and designer. My role gives me the opportunity to be creative at many scales, and work with very talented and fun problem solvers. We certainly work hard, play hard, and collaborate in a meaningful way to deliver remarkable projects to our clients.
How long have you lived in MKE & what brought you here?
I was raised just outside of Milwaukee. I did leave the state to pursue my undergraduate degree at Arizona State University. I really loved my time in the desert and at the same time it helped me appreciate what I left back in Milwaukee. When I would return, I would see this place transform and it made me proud. Honestly, many things brought me home. My pursuit of architectural design, large bodies of water, and most importantly my girlfriend (now wife).
What is something that is missing from our community that you would love to see implemented?
I think Summerfest is a great venue for the city; however, I think the city could further capitalize on the caliber of the festival and its real estate. When you think of what Fiesta is to San Antonio, Lollapalooza is to Chicago, and most exemplary, SXSW is to Austin. These cities have managed to create an experience where patrons are truly engaged with the urban fabric of the city beyond the guardrails of music.
If you could create one thing in MKE, what would it be?
I love art and Lake Michigan. Each day I am amazed at how this body of water transforms. There is a huge opportunity to better organize the lakefront starting with creating a sculpture park that allows Milwaukeeans a destination and a unique perspective of Lake Michigan. The recent addition of sculptures along Wisconsin Avenue strings a chord making me think of Chicago’s Grant Park, Minneapolis’ Sculpture Garden, or Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park – great examples of how we could better plan this beautiful amenity.
What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
Bavette. Great concept to engage the community. Amazing food. And equally great cocktails in an unpretentious setting.
What is your biggest hope for this city?
Embrace change – while respecting our history. The city is seeing a renaissance and while this is scary for some, it is exciting for others. Milwaukee is risk adverse at times. By embracing change, we can break down barriers physically, socially, and politically. It is easy to remain comfortable and stay the same Milwaukee. Trying something new will allow us to discover more great things about ourselves and our cool city.
What is your favorite MKE tradition?
A re-discovered tradition in the Milwaukee Beer Gardens (E.g. Estabrook). I am sure I am not the only one!
What does your ideal MKE weekend look like?
It would involve bikes, grills, gardens, beaches, beers, family, and friends. Not necessarily in that order.
What neighborhood do you live in and why do you love it
Well, I have slowly migrated north over the years. From Juneau Town to Lake Park to Shorewood and recently to Whitefish Bay. I am very close to Oakland Avenue and we get to take advantage of what Shorewood has done with the development in harmony with their master plan for their commercial district. We have easy access to great food, drinks, coffee, and shops all within a short walk with my wife and daughter. (Short walks usually involve a scooter these days.)
What’s your favorite hidden gem or secret fact about the city?
Since 88.9 Radio Milwaukee is no secret then it has to be water access. I love that you can access and touch the water in so many areas of our city. There are hidden trails that provide access to the river and lake that are beautiful, serene, and centering. In fact, I have a favorite spot to take my daughter to skip rocks. Sorry I cannot share where it is.
What do you think is going to be a game changer for the city in the year of 2017?
The continued efforts to reinvigorate West Wisconsin Avenue. My team and I are currently working to create a new home for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in the revitalized, historic Grand Theatre. It is no secret that this part of downtown has struggled to create a new identity since the downturn of the Grand Avenue Mall many years ago. I am eager to see Wisconsin Avenue as a thriving artery feeding downtown Milwaukee again. Wisconsin Avenue has such amazing history, and our research (which includes historic images of this part of town) is clear evidence. Much of the architecture is still as it was almost 100 years ago. It has witnessed serious, sad, and celebratory events and renders incredible potential for Milwaukee’s bright future.