The latest addition to Saint John's on the Lake, a Milwaukee-based retirement community, seeks to strengthen connections between residents and surrounding amenities while melding seamlessly within the existing campus.

Photo Courtesy of Christoper Barrett
Located in Milwaukee, Saint John's On The Lake's South Tower leverages its proximity to Lake Michigan, Olmsted Lake Park and public transportation.

To do so, the project team integrated a 20-year vision for growth into plans for the 21-story, 88-unit South Tower, thereby leveraging its proximity to Lake Michigan, Olmsted Lake Park and public transportation.

In addition to public dining and cultural and wellness amenities, the resulting plan called for maximizing underground parking and developing landscaped plaza decks.

However, the economic downturn of 2008 prompted the project team to revisit initial assumptions during a series of scoping sessions. It likewise prompted the owner to shave four months off the schedule to meet the immediate needs of the market, given a freeze on lending for comparable projects.

To engage potential buyers, the owner also elected to customize residences, resulting in the use of back-end software to integrate evolving plans with construction cost information.

Due to the chilly economic climate, project team members placed particular emphasis on value engineering, most notably in the execution of the building's skin and core. Modifications created a ripple effect, with the mechanical contractor proposing radiant heat panels at the perimeter for improved humidity control.

To further control costs, the plumbing contractor proposed a proprietary pro-vent system to combine waste piping and venting in plumbing systems.

As built, the system accommodates an air-admittance valve that allows additional air to enter the pipe while slowing the flow of water on vertical risers—features that enhance acoustical control.

Close coordination among mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades assisted in early clash detection, one of several strategies that allowed the team to meet the abbreviated construction schedule.

According to the owner, early completion proved instrumental to the project's financial success.