Fitting into Mequon
Children’s Hospital, city continue to discuss architecture

By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff

March 17, 2015

Revisions in the design of a proposed Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin clinic at Mequon Road and Market Street include additional use of stone and wood.
Submitted drawing

MEQUON - During a February meeting of Mequon’s Planning Commission, members took turns praising Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s plans to build a clinic in Mequon.

While there is nothing to suggest that enthusiasm has cooled, some members of the commission have raised questions about whether the proposed design of the building  fits in with its neighbors.

Discussions about the details of how the building will look and where it will be located continued at a March 10 meeting and possibly will be resolved by next month.

Representatives of Ryan Companies, the firm managing the construction of the planned 42,500-square-foot clinic, returned to the Planning Commission last week for the second month in a row to discuss the design details for the building planned for a 6.13-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Mequon Road and Market Street.

While several proposals still are on the table, a majority of the commissioners appeared to like a CHW proposal to shift the building on the site to provide more buffering with residential neighbors. It also proposed parking on three sides of the building.

Under that plan, the building would be located 82 feet off of the property line, providing 40 percent more setback than is required by the city.

The Ryan representatives also said that they have modified the exterior of the building to add more wood and stone. They called it a “modern health care” building and added that there are things CHW can’t accomplish inside the building without the outside design.

Commissioner James Schaeffer, who is an architect, said he would like to see a pitched roof added to the building in keeping with designs on other nearby structures, as well as throughout Mequon.

“This building looks way too institutional,” he said. “I would certainly think that Children’s Hospital would want to be a good fit with the architecture in the area.”

A Ryan representative added that a pitched roof would make the building appear even larger. He pointed to comments made by a resident earlier in the meeting who said that the pitched roofs on the nearby Sarah Chudnow facility made those buildings appear extremely large.

The developer added that attempt is being made to balance the Children’s Hospital brand with the appearance of other buildings in the area. That is why the stone and wood features were added, he said.

Council member Rob Strzelczyk, who serves on the Planning Commission, said he basically is OK with the proposed design, but said he was concerned about issues raised by neighbors who were apprehensive about water runoff.

“I don’t think you need to blend in and be synonymous with the area,” Strzelczyk said. “I like that you’re different.”

Commissioners John Mason and Brian Parrish also said they were comfortable with the revised design.

“That building looks very nice,” Mason said.

Commissioner David Fuchs said he liked the addition of the natural stone, but added that the straight lines of the roof did not appeal to him.

The Ryan Co. representatives said they would take the feedback they received back to Children’s Hospital officials. The project likely will be back in front of the Planning Commission on April 13, possibly for final approval.

When CHW first brought the plans forward at the February meeting of the Planning Commission, they said they had looked at numerous possible sites in Mequon and other facilities along the North Shore. A representative said Mequon was “the first choice” of CHW executives. A memo prepared by city staff said Children’s wants a presence in the area because it serves many families at its Wauwatosa hospital who live in the vicinity.

Gary Achterberg can be reached at gachterberg@conleynet.com.