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A Modern Streetscape with Old-World Charm
The Village in Wauwatosa is a thriving business district in a quaint setting reminiscent of European villages.

Landscape Architect by Ken Saiki Design


Ken Saiki Design created this raised pedestrian crossing plaza and integrated vehicular demarcations (centerline) with street and accent lighting to meld the feel of an old European town with a modern city. The firm deemphasized vehicular access and focused on spacious pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and crossings.
All photos courtesy of Ken Saiki Design

Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (pop. 46,396) is about 7 miles west of Milwaukee in the Menomonee Valley. The pleasant cadence of Wau - wa - to - sa is thanks to the Potawatomi Indians. It was their name for the firefly, or what kids used to call (maybe still do) lighting bugs. One imagines Indian children gathering the light flicker bugs in their hands, just as kids today capture them in glass jars.


This interactive water feature was constructed using limestone for the runnel with a granite millstone over permeable pavers. The redesigned space is focused on families with children to create safe and more usable play and activity spaces.

The Village in Wauwatosa is a business district of more than 100 stores, restaurants and businesses in a quaint setting reminiscent of European villages. The historic commercial heart of the city has century-old brick buildings nestled adjacent to the Menomonee River. The Village is linked to the residential neighborhoods of Hart Community Park, the Menomonee River and Menomonee River Parkway and the nearby Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.

Ken Saiki Design played an integral role in the development of a comprehensive streetscape master plan and construction documents for a multiple phase redevelopment for West State Street, adjoining streets and open spaces for in the Village. GAI Consultants/R.A. Smith National led the project design team. Powrtek Engineering performed the lighting design and electrical engineering.


The raised pedestrian crossing plaza is separated by bollards and bordered by limestone seating and planting beds.

While traffic flow and parking were given close attention, vehicular flow took a backseat to placemaking and pedestrians. The streetscape is shared space. Curbless streets provide a contiguous building-to-building plaza. Heavy-duty modular concrete pavers alert motorists that pedestrians have priority. One-way streets and parking facilitate counterflow bicycle circulation. Reverse angle parking and bold pavement markings were introduced. The design also incorporated Silva cells and specialized soil blends to optimize growing conditions for street trees and planting beds.

In-ground planters add color, texture, traffic-calming and break up the pavement expanses, reinforcing a village scale. Custom wayfinding signage informed the overall design. The Ken Saiki Design team created the wayfinding attachment and mounting details to derive an overall contemporary aesthetic.


Custom benches and paving patterns are set in contrast to the European village theme. The design goal was to make pedestrian accessibility and the city life a core focus, rather than vehicular traffic alleviation.

A new water feature adds sound, accent lighting and planting interest. A new construction phase will include renovation and expansion of pocket park sized open space parcels.

Special credit goes to the city of Wauwatosa Streetscape Selection Committee, elected officials/staff and the Village of Wauwatosa Business Improvement District for their continuing efforts toward completion of this multiyear renovation of downtown Wauwatosa.


These custom paver color blends were selected by the design team and specially produced by Unilock for this project.

Complete Team List
Client: City of Wauwatosa
Project Manager and Civil Engineer: GAI Consultants/R.A. Smith National
Lighting and Electrical: Powrtek Engineering
Public Engagement: Martinsek Associates
Landscape Architecture: Ken Saiki Design
General Contractor: Zignego Company Inc.
Landscape Contractor: Breckenridge Landscape
Lighting Contractor: Pieper Electric
Wayfinding Signage: fd2s (Concept Design), Sign Effectz Inc. (Construction Documents), Graphic House Inc. (Fabricator)


A water feature with custom seat top and accent lighting anchors the pedestrian oriented plaza. Plantings, street furniture, lighted bollards and a LED "canopy" unify and define the plaza, which can be closed to traffic for special events. Parking lanes are designed to be converted to "parklet" spaces for additional outdoor seasonal restaurant seating and merchandising. (See Parklets article.)

As seen in LASN magazine, August 2017.

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December 15, 2018, 9:09 am PST

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