3rd Street Market Hall
Milwaukee’s new 3rd Street Market Hall was created as part of a larger adaptive re-use of the Grand Avenue Mall, a former urban shopping mall which was centrally located within the heart of the City’s downtown core. This 40,000sf space, featuring twenty local food and beverage vendors, has quickly become a popular downtown destination and a social anchor helping rejuvenate the surrounding Westown neighborhood.
In its former life as an urban mall the space was inwardly focused and lacked meaningful connections to the life of the city. In response the TKWA design team focused on creating invitations at multiple scales. From the exterior, an iconic tower and roof sign serves as visual terminus to N Dr MLK Drive (formerly 3rd Street). At its base, a new civic plaza and building entrance connects to the city fabric.
The Market Hall’s internal organization centers around a heart space defined by an omni-directional bar topped with a two-story sculptural neon sign. The sign, visible from the offices above, is revealed from multiple vantage points within the food hall.
Vendor stalls are carefully arranged to create plaza-like communal gathering places. Each plaza is connected to the next — the resultant environment encourages exploration and discovery.
The experiential layout is further enhanced by play elements, including an elevated shuffle board platform, video-gaming wall, bag-toss, virtual golf room, and children’s play areas. Because the play is intentionally embedded and not isolated, families have flocked to the market hall to spend time.
The architectural expression celebrates the honesty of materials, using a palette of steel and concrete that serves as a backdrop to allow vendors to create unique and individual identities within their respective stalls.
The Market Hall is envisioned to be a living place, one that evolves and changes over time. In Summer, 2023 additions under construction include a new indoor beer hall/event space and improved pedestrian connections.