Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and Sixteenth Street Community Health Center


Kinnickinnic River Corridor Neighborhood Plan

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

2.5 mile river corridor

Engineering, Environmental Science, Landscape Architecture, Master Planning, Urban Planning and Design

Honor Award -- Analysis and Planning, Planning Document Award

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“We were especially pleased that the process recognized the primary role of residents. We were impressed by the extensive outreach to residents through churches, schools, direct mail and canvassing, and the commitment to meet people where they were in either English or Spanish.”

—Steve Fendt, Executive Director, Southside Organizing Committee


Sometimes called Milwaukee’s “Lost River,” the Kinnickinnic ran naturally through the city until it was lined with concrete in the early 1960s. As the city grew, the channelized and increasingly polluted river lost its capacity to handle runoff, leading to flooding and public health problems. When the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District embarked on a flood control project to remove the concrete embankments and widen the river, they and the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center engaged a team led by SmithGroupJJR to develop a plan to reconnect a restored river corridor with its diverse urban community.

The SmithGroupJJR team identified ways the project could solve flooding issues and also be a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. With substantial public participation (facilitated in English and Spanish), the team developed a place-driven design solution of customized neighborhood cross-sections, making river restoration a springboard for broader neighborhood renewal and redevelopment. This innovative, award-winning approach demonstrates how sustainable design and green infrastructure practices can foster appreciation for natural urban areas and create community-building spaces.

Related Content

Residential Stormwater BMPs in Kinnickinnic Watershed
Presentation by Ben Gramling, Sixteenth Street Community Health Center

Urban River Restoration Creates Healthier Neighborhoods
Article in Sustainable City Network featuring KK River project