MSR’s “Living Edge” proposal wins first place in Madison’s Reimagining Warner Beach Design Competition

Author: Amy Nash

Clean Lakes Alliance, in partnership with Madison Community Foundation and City of Madison Parks, has announced MSR as the winner of the conceptual design contest to reimagine Warner Beach in Madison, Wisconsin. Clean Lakes Alliance aims to foster a renewed investment and pride in the city’s local beaches through the “Back to the Beach” initiative designed to highlight park assets and identify opportunities for improvement. The conceptual design contest called for participants to envision a future for Warner Beach in which the area is enhanced in terms of water quality, sustainability, community access and placemaking to promote health, happiness, and well-being.

Perched along the shores of four of the Yahara Lakes, the City of Madison’s location has attracted generations of residents and visitors and created a unique genius of place for the Wisconsin State Capitol building. Lake Mendota’s predevelopment lakeshore consisted of fluctuating, routinely inundated forest, marsh, and wetland areas where plants, sun, soil, fish, wildlife, and other organ-isms maintained a dynamic equilibrium and clean, healthy lake. By contrast, much of the current lakeshore is blanketed with lawns or armored with riprap and bulkheads, drastically reducing the environment’s ecological contribution. Increased development and associated urban runoff, more frequent and intense storms and flooding, and encroaching invasive species have compounded the loss of natural shoreline. “The Living Edge,” MSR’s design proposal for Warner Beach, responds to these conditions by tripling the beach’s effective shoreline area along the 1/4-mile stretch of Lake Mendota. This replicable approach aims to build resilience in the face of climate change, enhance biological diversity, and restore ecosystem function. In addition to amplifying ecological perfor-mance, the increase in lake edge expands experiential opportunities for visitors and nurtures a natural affinity for the water’s edge.

The Reimagining Warner Beach design competition continues MSR’s long-standing relationship with the City of Madison. The firm also designed the award-winning renovation and expansion to the Madison Central Library, renovation to the Madison Municipal Building (currently under construction), and a new learning center and greenhouse for the Olbrich Botanical Gardens (currently in design).

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