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Pabst brewery entryway.JPG

Brewhouse Inn and Suites

Milwaukee, WI

adaptive reuse, historic building, Chicago, green building, building renovations,

Milwaukee’s west side was once the home of the former Pabst Brewery, where Blue Ribbon beer was cranked out for roughly150 years. The 20-acre site, resurrected and rebranded as The Brewery District, has earned the rare distinction of being certified at the highest level of LEED for Neighborhood Development (platinum). Sustainability was uppermost in the developers’ minds during the restoration of the 16 former factory buildings still standing on the site. 


In 2013, two buildings totaling 132,000 square feet—the old 1880’s Pabst brewhouse and adjacent milling house, where grains were ground up and then stirred into the brew—reopened as an expansive hotel plus restaurant. The Brewhouse Inn & Suites, decorated in “steampunk” style, with endless examples of repurposed materials and equipment, was rebuilt with water and energy savings in mind. 

Notable Nugget

The old brewery has returned to the Pabst site on a small scale. It is located in, of all things, the former First German Methodist Church around the block from the Brewhouse Inn, and is called the Captain Pabst Pilot House.

adaptive reuse, historic building, Chicago, green building, building renovations, brewery, beer

Green Upgrade Details

The six-story Brewhouse Inn contains 90 guest rooms surrounding an atrium topped by a vaulted glass roof that is a replica of the original. In 2011, when the renovation began, the construction crew uncovered its 300-odd windows, boarded up since 1996, so that light could once more stream into the interior. The National Historic Landmark’s huge shiny copper kettles anchor the atrium, flanked by the original elegant black cast iron columns.

Each hotel bed headboard, kitchen table, and conference room table is made of reclaimed wood. Towel racks are actually old pipes, and breakfast tabletops are supported by recycled heavy machinery parts. Even the round reception desk recalls the brewery days: it is decked with glass beer bottle bottoms.

Outside, rainwater is collected in roof gardens and sidewalk bioswales, or captured underground in a system of Brewery District detention reservoirs, preventing water from overburdening the city sewer, and filtering out pollutants.

Major Players

  • Quorum Architects

  • Gorman & Company

  • Zilber Property Group

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