Harley-Davidson Unveils Davidson Park, a New Community Park at Iconic Milwaukee Headquarters

Spearheaded by the Harley-Davidson Foundation and designed by acclaimed designers Heatherwick Studio, Davidson Park will benefit employees, local community and visitors to Milwaukee.Bill Davidson, Karen Davidson, Willie G. Davidson and Jochen Zeitz at H-D Park Opening

Harley-Davidson, Inc. today formally unveiled the newly created community park, Davidson Park (“the Park”), at its iconic Juneau Avenue campus in Milwaukee. 

The project, pioneered by the Harley-Davidson Foundation (“the Foundation”), has been created in partnership with internationally acclaimed designers, Heatherwick Studio who conceived and oversaw an original design to transform the 4-acre parking lot just south of the Company’s 3700 W. Juneau Avenue building into a soulful green space that can be used by everyone who lives in and visits Milwaukee’s Near West Side (“NWS”). As part of the project team, HGA served as the architect and engineer of record and Greenfire Management Services as the construction partner, with both Milwaukee-based firms partnering with Heatherwick Studio to bring the design vision to life. 

“When we started this project, we did so with one main goal, and that was to further connect the Company with our hometown Milwaukee, a place that we’ve been proud to call home for over 120 years,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO, Harley-Davidson. “No matter how fast you move forward, you can never forget where you’ve come from – this project both celebrates our heritage and reinforces the power of the Harley-Davidson brand to be a force for good within our communities.” 

“Davidson Park has been an extraordinary collaboration between the studio and local partners, schools, artists and the Forest County Potawatomi community, to transform an uninspiring concrete parking lot into a new public park and events amphitheatre for Milwaukee. Created for the local community, with the community’s collaboration and help, it’s a place where people can come together with friends and family to enjoy some of the wildness of Wisconsin's incredible nature, listen to the state's best music, or experience the energy of a motorcycle rally. Harley-Davidson has been part of Near West Side's history for over 120 years and the park is a natural next chapter in their joint story. As the plants grow and mature, the intention is that the space increasingly honours both the heritage of Harley-Davidson and gives the residents something to not just enjoy, but to feel proud of,” said Thomas Heatherwick, Founder and Director, Heatherwick Studios. 

“On behalf of the Harley-Davidson Foundation, we are really excited to formally unveil Davidson Park – we believe that the Park will provide a much-needed greenspace in our local community – but importantly a space that can be shared by all,” said Tori Termaat, President, The Harley-Davidson Foundation. 

History and Concept

In 2021, the Foundation sponsored an Appreciative Inquiry Summit in partnership with Near West Side Partners, a non-profit founded to make the NWS a great place to live, work, play and stay by revitalizing and sustaining thriving business and residential corridors.

The Summit brought together over 200 NWS stakeholders, including residents, youth, and local businesses, to realize their hopes and dreams for the neighborhood. Among the key community needs identified was a safe green space that supports health, well-being, art and culture, and a place for youth to play. Input from the stakeholders served as the basis for Heatherwick Studio’s unique community park design.

From the start, the ambition for Davidson Park has been to create an inclusive place that everyone who lives or visits NWS can call their own - whether they use the park as a space to relax, to enjoy the local art and culture scene or attend an event.

“Davidson Park is a testament to the power of collaboration and listening,” says Peter Balistrieri, Principal and National Corporate Market Sector Leader at HGA. “Voices from all over the Near West Side—from Potawatomi leaders to local students and community groups—played a crucial role throughout the process. This is truly a park for the community, by the community.”  

Davidson Park Features
The Hub and Foundation Stone

The Hub at H-D Park

Celebrating togetherness and paying homage to history and community, at the heart of Davidson Park is "The Hub", a sunken multi-use events space, an amphitheatre approximately 272 feet wide with tiered seating, set among lush plants and trees. The design promotes coming together with its circular layout defined by a combination of motorcycle driveways and turning circles, parking bays, sidewalks, plants, seats, and 360-degree viewpoints.  

In one direction, “The Hub” will provide views of the brick buildings of the original home of Harley-Davidson. In the other, visitors will see a park sown with 120 native plant species, including 20 species of trees and 100 species of perennials, some of which are sacred to the Forest County Potawatomi tribe, who have helped provide guidance throughout the process.  

The Hub has been built with ten types of locally sourced brick, natural wany-edge timber, and weathered steel with a beautiful warm patina. In addition to tripling the green space such as lawns and plantings, the park integrates a dynamic system of green infrastructure, including native bioswales, permeable pavers and cisterns to capture hundreds of thousands of gallons of stormwater – a significant contribution to regional infrastructure and the environment. With a commitment to sustainability, the park’s design will be one of the first SITES—a rating system for sustainable land design and development—certified projects in Wisconsin.

The Foundation Stone is located at the center of the Hub (the event and gatherings amphitheater, recessed into the ground) and is four feet in diameter made from cast iron. The Foundation Stone has been designed by local artist, and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design student, Megan Huss, and celebrates the Near West Side and the creation of this new community park in Milwaukee.

“I am incredibly honored to be a part of the history of Harley-Davidson and I am able to showcase the sense of community in the Near West Side neighborhood through my work,” said Huss.  

Main Street

Main Street is the main pedestrian thoroughfare through the Park, envisioned for use for events such as farmers’ markets, craft fairs & food trucks. The street also connects all major areas of the park including the Hub, playground, community lawn, picnic knoll, serenity garden, and viewing lawns, surrounded by native plants, including one hundred species of perennials and twenty species of trees. People can walk across or around Main Street to access the Hub, making it a lively place for social interaction. At night, the street will have a festive ambiance with catenary lights above that change colors.  

Union Plaza

The main pedestrian entrance to the park is Union Plaza, located off West Highland Boulevard. At approximately 11,000 square feet, the plaza leads to Main Street and the Hub and will be a destination in itself, with flexible space for temporary markets, food trucks, and events. Union Plaza will be made from concrete with varying textures. It is home to a 10-foot tall, weathered steel sculpture inspired by Harley Davidson’s iconic bar and shield.

North and South Lawn

Located off Main Street to the northeast is the community North Lawn. The Lawn is approximately 7,600 square feet in size and is surrounded by planting, which will provide shade and a beautiful setting for relaxation, play & community events.   

The South Lawn picnic knoll is adjacent and east of Main Street and north of the Union Plaza. It is a place for people to gather on picnic benches, whether this be family lunch, dog walkers having a chat, or school children taking part in learning activities. The picnic knoll is approximately 5,750 square feet in size and is a wonderful place to be while surrounded by greenery. 

Little Legends Playground 

Located in the south portion of the park off Main Street, Legends Play Area was designed in collaboration with the NWS community to realize the vision of a nature play area. Elements include wooden log climbers, steppingstones, and hillside climbing. Little Legends Playground is 6,000 square feet of accessible elements for kids ages 1 to 12. 

Viewing Hills

Three hillside Viewing Hills are adjacent to the southwest portion of the Hub. Each hill is approximately 2,300 square feet and provides views overlooking the Hub during special events such as movie nights, theatre events, or music performance events. The Hills also provide a place to relax surrounded by native plants, some of which are sacred to the Forest County Potawatomi., including one hundred species of perennials and twenty species of trees.  

1903 Tavern

In partnership with Molson Coors, 1903 Tavern brings together two iconic Near West Side anchor institutions to offer Davidson Park visitors a relaxed open-air environment to socialize while enjoying a cold beverage. 1903 Tavern will serve an assortment of canned beverages including beer, malt, seltzers and non-alcoholic beverages. A portion of the revenue from 1903 Tavern goes back into amplifying Davidson Park’s ambition.

Potawatomi Serenity Garden

The Serenity Garden is a result of a close collaboration between the Forest County Potawatomi leaders and the Harley-Davidson Foundation. The garden reflects the geometry of the medicine wheel, a symbol of significance for many Native American tribes including the Potawatomi.  A grandfather stone is located at the center of four quadrants of medicine plants that mark the cardinal directions of the wheel. These plants include tobacco to the east, cedar to the south, sage to the west, and sweetgrass to the north. All are invited to use this garden as a place for contemplation, reflection, and meditation.  

An accessible and inclusive space, Davidson Park will be open and welcoming for all (residents, community members, and visitors) to enjoy, gather, and connect. We will continue to seek ongoing stakeholder feedback - incorporating and encouraging community and visitor voices to inform future enhancements and changing interests.  

Future Campus Development

H-D Park

Today’s opening marks the first phase of development at Juneau Avenue. The Company’s vision for the campus is to focus on multi-purpose development, ensuring that developments continue to celebrate Harley-Davidson and its history, while recognizing the need to evolve the space to be relevant not only for today, but for the future. And as the Company continues to explore opportunities for the wider campus, we remain committed to our mission and vision. 

As part of the next phase of development, two exciting additions are coming to Juneau Ave – a STEAM Lab and the Harley-Davidson Factory Racing Headquarters.

Harley-Davidson recognizes the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) in education and the importance of helping build the next generation of skilled workers. The STEAM lab will enable H-D to further partner with local organizations and schools to provide students direct access to resources, receive mentoring from our talented employees, experience hands-on learning, and encourage career exploration in STEAM fields.

Racing has been part of H-D history for over 100 years and is a compelling way to bring its brand narrative to life for customers and fans. The H-D Factory Racing Team will move back to where it all began, giving visitors to the historic H-D headquarters an exciting and engaging behind-the-scenes look and enhancing customer-facing experiences in alignment with the Company’s campus strategy.

To learn more about Davidson Park, including upcoming events, visit h-d.com/davidsonpark.