Architecture Critic Finds New Milwaukee Designs Lacking Originality

Dec 5, 2016

Photographer and architecture critic Tom Bamberger has offered pointed commentary and criticism of Milwaukee’s architecture - old and new - as well as on public art and how our green spaces should be designed. He writes a regular column about all of these things for UrbanMilwaukee.com, called In Public.

Bamberger’s recent articles tackle the issue of design and, what he calls, the lack of a good creative process.

READ: Hammes Building An Obvious Mistake, by Tom Bamberger

“By and large [community input] doesn’t create good design,” he says. “What that does is prevent horrible design, which is not a bad thing, but it also prevents really great design.”

However, who decides what makes a design good or bad? At its core, Bamberger says, is the simple act of personal investment.

"What a good design is, is people care about it and they put work into it and think about it,” he says. “Now that doesn't necessarily guarantee a good building, but you at least want people to try to make a good building."

Bamberger says that too often community guidelines restrict design and create a neighborhood without distinction. He suggests new projects should compliment their surroundings, but not have to camouflage into them.

"Almost all the buildings that we love [in Milwaukee] were done despite something, they weren't done because of it," he says. "What you really need in buildings is ego."