The Kellogg PEAK Initiative

  • area / size 17,400 sqft
  • Completed 2021
  • HGA was tasked with giving the Kellogg PEAK Initiative a thoughtful space for play, education and community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    The Kellogg PEAK Initiative (PEAK) celebrated the grand opening of its expanded community center June 11, 2021, marking an important milestone toward increasing educational and leadership programming for underserved youths in Milwaukee.

    Located in Tiefenthaler Park on Milwaukee’s northwest side, the expanded community center, designed by HGA, nearly doubles PEAK’s existing facility with additional learning labs and outdoor spaces for a variety of age-appropriate programming for children ages seven through high school.

    PEAK—Potential, Experience, Access, and Knowledge—was founded by the Kellogg Family Foundation in 2002 as Lake Valley resident camp on a 650-acre site in Boscobel, Wisconsin.

    As needs grew beyond a two-week summer camp, PEAK leased an existing building in Tiefenthaler Park from Milwaukee County Parks with the agreement that PEAK would fund any upgrades to the building or park itself.

    PEAK continued to reach children through partnerships with Milwaukee-area schools and other nonprofits, offering year-round day camps, school- and community-based programs, and leadership-in-training programs geared toward elementary, middle, and high school students. With the increased weekday and weekend activity, PEAK found itself stretched for space in the 7,000-square-foot park building.

    PEAK soon partnered with HGA through an RFP process to develop a master plan for the site, establishing a vision for the community center as an active resource. In approaching the project, HGA conducted multiple design sessions with community members and children.

    Sessions included having pre-teens select fabric and material samples to design a room and talk about what they liked, such as having a secure courtyard where they can interact with nature. Journey-mapping exercises with teens revealed a need for a separate space. Town halls with neighbors sought to make Tiefenthaler Park usable and accessible for everyone.

    The expanded community center includes a multipurpose community room, five flexible labs, collaboration areas, teen room, secured outdoor courtyard, and renovated administrative offices and support space.

    The design follows an enclosed courtyard plan, with the new multipurpose community room directly opposite the original building, and two surrounding wings housing entry/reception and labs. Three large garage doors on the community room connect to the courtyard. The renovated original building includes administrative spaces, with windows punched in the brick wall to provide views to the courtyard. The teen room is on the lower level, responding to the desire for “their own space where they can act like teens.”

    Sophisticated colors reference PEAK’s branded colors in light and dark pairings, while wood finishes reference Lake Valley’s aesthetic. Precast concrete walls with clerestory windows provide durable surfaces and protection from the street. A new circle drive leads to the main entry featuring a glass vestibule and large canopy. Landscaping includes stone benches and a circular arrangement used for outdoor classes and group activities.

    PEAK will graduate its first summer class in the new building August 8, setting the stage for an ambitious year leading into their fall programming in September.

    The Kellogg Family Foundation funded the community center. HGA served as design architect in partnership with CG Schmidt as contractor.

    Design: HGA
    Photography: John Magnoski