Approached by J. Jeffers Company in the winter of 2016, we assisted on the design and conversion of this former Cardinal Stritch Office building into a highly detailed, forty-five unit micro-apartment project. Located within the Pabst Brewery Complex the project encompassed historic Building 14 & Building 15 and utilized Historic Tax Credits as part of the project. During the height of the Pabst operations, these two buildings served respectively as a blacksmith’s shop and the main laboratory for Pabst in which beer testing and product experiments occurred. Or, as Andy Wilson of J. Jeffers Co. put it: “…activities that sound a lot like college”.
One unique aspect to the otherwise utilitarian laboratory building was the unusually high floor-to-floor heights. Initially designed to accommodate the many ventilation ducts and mechanical piping of the laboratory, this height was an opportunity that we capitalized on in the design of the residential units. We created a lofted sleeping area over a studio/den and a portion of the kitchen. This allowed us to tightly fit the units into the building and increase the overall rents and density of the building. It also created dramatic living units that differentiate BrewLab Lofts from much of the other product in the area.
With the BrewLab Lofts geared towards residents in their 20’s, we approached local artist Patrick Smyczek of Beast USA to collaborate on a four-story mural in the entrance stairway. Stretching nearly sixty feet, Patrick created a mural of a Rube Goldberg contraption (with a German beer – laboratory theme obviously). To complement the mural, an audio track of laboratory sounds such as clinking glass, bubbling water, and hissing steam will be piped into the space as background noise. The aggregate effect will be a complete sensory art experience that greets visitors to the building upon entry.