Before it was a vacant lot, the future site of Rinka Chung Architecture’s Pabst Business Center was home to a fleet of horse-drawn carriages that ferried beer throughout the city of Milwaukee. The Pabst brewery has since moved from the neighborhood, but the soon-to-be-constructed office building’s name nods to the area’s history even as its design arches towards a contemporary vision of the city.
“What we’ve done to some extent is alleviate a design flaw that’s happened all over our city,” said Justin Stuebs, project architect for Rinka Chung. “We’ve carved out a double-height lobby space.” Instead of two floors of parking dominating the ground floor experience, the open space functions as a lobby and a breakout space, connecting to a recently completed beer garden next door. Segments of green roof and patio adorn the third and top floors.
A glassy corner looks across the street to the Pabst Chapel. Inside, rough-hewn wood elements and exposed rusticated steel go for an industrial loft feel. Aside from a run of rust-colored brown manganese brick, however, the exterior is no homage to more rustic precedents. Red wood fins attached to the curtain wall system break up the glassy frontage, while wood soffits overhang the entryways at ground level and on the roof.