Postman’s Plot – Pop Up Park

UPDATE 7/7: Join NEWaukee on Tuesday, July 12 from 11:30-12:30pm, to celebrate completion of the Pop Up Park on Postman’s Plot.

RSVP here.


Postman’s Plot is designed as a social experiment for Milwaukee’s Westown Neighborhood located in downtown Milwaukee on W. Wells, Plankinton and 2nd St. The Pop Up Park sits in the shadows of the Historic Germania Building.

The experiment seeks to answer the question”‘is there a better way to build parks?” Can we test low cost solutions and track how the community uses or does not use certain features of the park? By implementing low cost interventions, the aspects people use can be invested in to be more permanent and the features people do not use can be removed. The thought is we can save money before investing in permanency and make parks more adaptive to the surrounding community. All the furniture is movable, temporary and low cost. Over the next year NEWaukee will study behavior in the park to track what installations are being used. We will work with the surrounding businesses and neighbors to continually solicit input for future improvements.

Conceptually, the design is a response to the rich diversity of constraints and opportunities that the site provides. That is, the design simultaneously responds to its historical significance and geographic location, sun angles, context, etc while adapting to the requirements of the budget and the human experience. More specifically, the design utilizes a series of interventions that serve as a tool kit for social engagement. This grouping of aesthetically coordinated built forms respond to the needs of the existing community (lunch hour office-use passersby) as well as the new community of residents beginning to once again call Westown home.

Milwaukee’s Westown neighborhood is in the midst of both a residential and commercial resurgence. For those that are closely entrenched in Milwaukee’s growing downtown scene, this is widely known. For others, we hope this park will serve as yet another example of the growing activity in this segment of the city.

Historical Context:
Letter Carriers’ Monument is a statue that sits at the center of the triangle-shaped plot that commemorates the United States first postal carriers’ labor union. The labor union was formed just across Plankinton Avenue in a building that faces back onto the park and the monument itself. This history formed the conceptual framework for the park’s aesthetic and served as a way to tie together a series of public interventions. Thematically, the root idea is that each intervention serves as a means to share ideas with fellow Milwaukeeans; much like a letter mailed through the US Postal Service may transmit a message or an idea to its recipient(s). The entirety of the project is painted the same blue hue as an honorary and bold nod to the US Postal Service’s most dominant color and the iconic blue mailbox.

Installations:
Social Furniture: If you look close 100% of the seating is movable. People are people. they want to sit where they want to sit. We invested in low cost seating that can be replaced if damaged or stolen. Most benches are designed for isolation. All the seating in the park is about interactivity. The lounge chairs are made from shipping pallets that have been up-cycled into Adirondack chairs. The stage and historical markers are also interactive. Each installation can be climbed on, sat on or used for their original intent.
Lunch / Dinner Table: The need for more seating downtown is evident. There is a lack of community gathering spots that offer flexible seating for large groups. This was seen an opportunity. All the seating is light and flexible to fit your needs. No reservations needed.
Historical Marker: An interactive historical marker allows patrons to step up and gaze through the viewfinder to relive the creation of the letters carrier union.
Stage: Throughout history, Postman’s Park has been a place for protest, discussion and gathering. To honor that history we have built a stage for the community to use as they wish. The stage also features a white screen for projection. The furniture can easily be moved around the stage to accommodate a large group.
Mailbox: What better tribute to Letter Carriers than an interactive mailbox? Have a thought, want to share your Milwaukee experience? Drop a letter written on anything in the mailbox, leave your Twitter name and we will read the letters online using the hashtag #LetterstoMKE

Park Concept and Design:
The concept of the park was created by NEWaukee, Ryan Tretow, and Issac Kramer. Over 15 input sessions were hosted from January 2016 to May 2016. Design and build is credited to Ryan Tretow.

Funding:
Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors
Milwaukee Neighborhood Improvement Development Corp
NEWaukee