topbanner ad

Tuesday 31 January 2023


H-D Announces Plans for a Community Park to Benefit its Employees and the Milwaukee Community

Partnering with the Harley-Davidson Foundation, acclaimed British designer Thomas Heatherwick and his studio (of London 2012 Olympic Cauldron fame) have been hired to reimagine land on Harley-Davidson's Juneau Avenue campus headquarters to benefit employees, the people of Milwaukee and visitors to the city. It is hoped that the project will also attract people to Milwaukee's Near West Side. 

Overseeing the overall creative delivery of the project, internationally acclaimed designers Heatherwick Studio [who number Harley Chairman, CEO and President Jochen Zeitz among their client list], have been commissioned to conceive an original design that will transform the concrete site into a civic and soulful green gathering space that can be used by everyone, including employees and the local community.

"Milwaukee is the place we have proudly called home for 120 years," said Zeitz. "We want Harley-Davidson's presence in Milwaukee to be more relevant than ever before, for our community, employees and our customers.

"It's important to us to protect and enhance this part of our heritage in a way that is aligned to our strategy, ensuring that it will be relevant to generations to come. Kicking the project off in our 120th year underscores both the importance of the project and the commitment that we are making to Milwaukee. We are very proud by the work of the Harley-Davidson Foundation in spearheading this project, which builds on the $30m donated by the Motor Company to the Foundation since 2020."

The initial development will be overseen and funded by The Harley-Davidson Foundation, with longer-term sponsorship and donor opportunities to further enhance the project being made available in the near future. 

Over the past 18 months, the Foundation brought together a broad set of stakeholders - including members of the community - to expand a shared, long-term vision for the Near West Side and set tangible priorities to accelerate progress for its neighborhood. Among the key community needs identified was greenspace. To deliver this reality, Harley-Davidson has gifted the land identified for the project directly to the Foundation. In developing the project, inputs from multiple stakeholders served as the basis for Heatherwick Studio's unique community park design. 

Celebrated for internationally acclaimed projects including Little Island, a greenspace that sits above New York's Hudson River, Heatherwick's approach leads from human experience, with its projects specifically working to enrich the lives of the people who use them.

At the heart of the park is "The Hub", a sunken multi-use events space, 83 meters (approximately 272 feet) wide with tiered seating, set among lush plants and trees. The design promotes the idea of togetherness for the community, riders and employees alike.

Its circular layout is defined by a combination of motorcycle driveways and turning circles, parking bays, sidewalks, plants and seats, and 360-degree viewpoints. The Hub will be built with ten types of locally sourced brick, natural wany-edge timber, and weathered steel with a beautifully warm patina.

In one direction, the Hub will provide views of the handsome brick buildings of the original home of Harley-Davidson. In the other, visitors will see a park sown with 120 native plant species, including 20 species of trees and 100 species of perennials, some of which are sacred to the Forest County Potawatomi. There are also plans for a market street, contemplative garden and nature playground.

"Our goal is to turn this historic factory land into a new public park for the people of Milwaukee. We want to make an exciting community space where people can come together with friends and family and experience the wildness of nature alongside spaces for food, performance and play. The ambition is to highlight and celebrate renewed life in the Near West Side of this very special city," said Thomas Heatherwick.

Throughout the project, Heatherwick will act as Design Guardian, collaborating with local firms, HGA, a Milwaukee architectural firm, and Greenfire Management Services, a Near West Side business and diverse supplier, to ensure the project realizes its potential to become an important part of the Milwaukee landscape that reflects both Harley-Davidson's values and its transformative aspirations for the community.

"This gift to the Foundation is the most recent demonstration of the company's commitment to its enduring, active community presence and Inclusive Stakeholder Management approach to business that strives to positively impact people, planet and profit," said Julie Anding, Vice President, Inclusive Stakeholder Management, Harley-Davidson, and President, Harley-Davidson Foundation. 

"The Harley-Davidson Foundation is doubling down on its focus and investments to support the neighborhood to make it a place all can be proud to live in, work and visit. It is our hope that this park will become the heart of the community and catalyst for further revitalization efforts."

The community park development is set to break ground in spring of 2023, with the park available for use by summer 2024. Established in 1993, The Harley-Davidson Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Harley-Davidson, Inc. 

"The Foundation cultivates social impact through employee volunteerism, collaboration with other non-profit organizations and investments in youth programs that foster STEAM innovation and programming. Foundation priorities include a commitment to Harley's home, the Near West Side of Milwaukee, and the communities where we live and work across the globe." 

Heatherwick Studio is a design team of 200 "problem solvers" dedicated to making the physical world around us better for everyone. Their recent work includes Google's new campus in Bay View, California, the multi-award-winning Little Island in New York, Coal Drops Yard in King's Cross, London, and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town. Azabudai Hills, the studio's first major Japanese project, is scheduled to open in 2023.