Center for Architecture and Urban Planning Research

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aging and environment

geographic information systems

metro milwaukee initiative

historic preservation institute

frank lloyd wright initiative

optimum housing technology

environmental quality

community service

design research


collaborative programs

4urban initiatives

4community design solutions

4urban transportation


ph.d. program

Metro Milwaukee Initiative

The Herzfeld Foundation provided a gift of $150,000 to the School of Architecture and Urban Planning over three years. The third year ended June 1, 2002. The Herzfeld gift proved to extremely valuable, allowing SARUP to expand the scope of its work through the creation of the Metro Milwaukee Initiative (MMI), which.drew upon faculty talents and time to address issues concerning:

  • Urban sprawl and Smart Growth
  • Responsive design and planning of neighborhoods and regions
  • Issues of inner-city and under-served communities
  • Inter- and intra-community cooperation
  • Regional economic and environmental infrastructure


 Recent Research

Urban Sprawl and New Urbanism

Exploring Sprawl; Growing the Central City; Wisconsin's Smart Growth Law Seminars
Seminar Leader: Nancy Frank

Each year was devoted to one of the issues, experts presented specific topics to interested faculty, students and guests. Urban Planning students also extensively researched each topic. A summary of the seminars was prepared and presented. These seminars have been so successful that they are continuing. In 2002- 2003  a potpourri of topics are being addressed: open space in urban neighborhoods; urban growth boundaries, envisioning density, adaptive reuse of storefront commercial buildings in older neighborhoods; low impact development; taming the Big Box; and building codes for Smart Growth.

Images of New Urbanism: An Annotated Image Library
Investigator: Carolyn Esswein 

A publicly accessible image library, which provides planners and designers with a tool to educate residents in their communities about density and design alternatives that create livable (even walkable) places for people to live, work, and shop is under construction.

New Urbanism: An Empirical Evaluation
Investigator: Carolyn Esswein 

After extensive research, document successes and failures of 20 new urbanism projects in the United States. Issues to be targeted include: inclusion of open space, absorption rate of such projects, impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and properties, and impact on land value.

Smart Growth Implementation in Wisconsin: A Progress Assessment
Investigator: Carolyn Esswein 

The final piece in a three-year effort by Carolyn Esswein to document progress toward Smart Growth and New Urbanism in Wisconsin.  This project assesses the ways in which 5 Wisconsin communities have implemented Wisconsin's Smart Growth law and compares the plans and processes for planning under Wisconsin's Smart Growth law to planning in other states

Zoning and Housing Affordability

This project arose out of discussions at a task group meeting of the Housing Partnership for Southeastern Wisconsin (HOPS).  Participants in the sustainable regional policy task group identified a SARUP study from 1992 as an important tool in documenting the impact of zoning codes on housing affordability.  That study demonstrated that unnecessarily restrictive zoning codes imposed requirements on lot size, home size, street widths, and the like, that added substantial cost to the price of a single family home.  The original study focused on Waukesha County.  The current study updates the data for Waukesha County and expands it to Ozaukee, Washington, and Milwaukee Counties


Responsive Design and Planning of Neighborhoods and Regions

Feasibility of Bicycle Facilities in Lieu of Employee Parking

Associate Professor Michael Utzinger explores the comparative costs of providing bicycle secure storage and shower facilities versus providing an parking place for a car in downtown Milwaukee

Home-Based Businesses in Old Commercial Corridors

Professor Sherry Ahrentzen studied the feasibility and design solutions needed to facilitate home-based businesses along the Lincoln Avenue commercial corridor.  Home-based businesses can substantially reduce the costs of new business ventures while enlivening stagnant commercial areas.

Co-Housing Lecture

Co-housing offers an alternative to standard housing models.  In co-housing, some living spaces are shared, allowing each participating family to have access to more living space—and more shared responsibility for household chores—than in a standard home or apartment.  Co-housing is much more prevalent in some geographic areas than it is in the Milwaukee area.  This lecture provided faculty, students, and members of the general public with a better understanding of the market potential for co-housing in this area.

Lisbon Avenue Neighborhood Strategic Plan

SARUP staff provided planning services to the Lisbon Avenue Neighborhood Development Corp. 

Small Lot Stormwater Containment

While "exurban sprawl" can be cited as the cause of recent increases in downstream flooding and degradation of water quality, older urban neighborhoods also create vast areas of impervious surfaces that force rainwater to rush to the nearest stream.  The project explores alternatives for containing every drop of rainwater on site, even on small residential lots which pose the greatest challenges to stormwater management.


Issues of Inner Cities and Underserved Communities


Cooperation Not Consolidation: The Answer for Milwaukee Governance

Investigator: Sammis White

Milwaukee recently underwent an uncharacteristic period in which several of its public officials left office more quickly than they had planned.  It helped to raise the issue of whether the city and county governments should be consolidated into one government.  This study examined what seven other large communities have done with their efforts at consolidation.  Surprisingly, few consolidations are as complete as the image to the rest of the country suggests.  Miami-Dade County, for example, still has separate city and county governments.  But there is much more sharing of services than was previously the case.  Indianapolis also is less consolidated than is imagined. Jacksonville and Nashville are quite fully integrated.  The story behind each of the large consolidation was explored as were the reasons that some were more consolidated than others.  Given the experiences elsewhere the question was raised and answered as to what would be most appropriate for Milwaukee.  The clear answer was cooperation on specific services as opposed to wholesale consolidation.

A Guide to Neighborhood Revitalization
Investigator: Welford Sanders

In a number of cities, planning is helping to revitalize neighborhoods and stem the tide of flight to the suburbs and resulting sprawl. Welford Sanders, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Planning, will draft a guide that will provide step-by-step instructions for neighborhood planning and serve as an effective revitalization tool for neighborhood organizations.

Land Assembly and Site Design in the City of Milwaukee
Project Director: Nancy Frank

Frank's Planning Theory and Practice course is assessing supply and future demand for industrial land in Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin. Then Frank will develop and apply a decision-making model for the City to use when evaluating problematic development proposals regarding industrial land conversion to other uses.

Significant City
Project Directors:
Gil Snyder and James Dicker

For three years, a studio funded by Towne Realty has been developing design options for a technopole along the Milwaukee River from its mouth in the Milwaukee Harbor to the Glendale border. The design options and other information about the project are viewable at the XYZ studio website.

Issues of Inter and Intra Community Cooperation

Investigator: Sammis White

Examine and evaluate cooperative arrangements that have occurred between municipalities in the Milwaukee area and elsewhere to identify the elements of successful cooperative arrangements.

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

last updated on May 03, 2007