Aaron Ebent, Associate Principal at Kahler Slater was recently featured in the “Stakeholder Spotlight” section of BID 21’s December newsletter. Each month, Business Improvement District 21 highlights a local professional who is making a significant impact in shaping Milwaukee’s downtown. For the full interview see below.
Aaron Ebent, Associate Principal at Kahler Slater
From BID 21:
This month we sit down with Aaron Ebent of Kahler Slater. Aaron is one of the talented local architects behind several recently completed office and hospitality projects that are transforming Milwaukee's skyline. Find out what recently proposed project he is most excited to be working on.
What services does Kahler Slater provide to clients?
Founded in 1908, Kahler Slater began as a regional provider of design services and has grown to become a global, award-winning firm. Today, we partner with clients around the world to design transformative experiences and environments through architecture, interior design and environmental branding. We focus on serving corporate, hospitality, multi-family housing, health care, higher education, sports and fitness clients. Kahler Slater is based in Milwaukee and has additional offices in Madison and Singapore.
What downtown Milwaukee projects that you worked on are you most proud of?
I have been very fortunate to contribute to the built landscape of downtown over the past decade, and every project has been special and impactful in some way. Two of my designs that come to mind are Marriott Milwaukee, which set the tone for the hotel renaissance going on now, and Kimpton Journeyman, which is an incredible destination we were able to blend into the context of the Historic Third Ward. I am also very proud of 833 East. The quality of that project has attracted some of the most notable tenants in the city, and it was a great collaboration by exclusively local talent.
What downtown Milwaukee project that you are currently working on are you most excited about?
I am very excited about the BMO Harris Financial Center project that was recently announced by Irgens. The location of the project reinforces Milwaukee's central financial district, and the contemporary design interacts very well with the historic City Hall. The project will provide new Class-A office space and amenities for its tenants and will also help activate several key streets in the neighborhood.
What other projects do you see as key to keep positive momentum going in downtown and throughout the city?
It is important to expand the convention center and complement it with additional development such as our design for the Nexus project at 4th and Wisconsin. The key to the success of the streetcar system is to connect other neighborhoods with downtown. Almost any project that adds density through infilling vacant lots or repurposes underutilized building stock will be good for the health of the city.
What do you see as downtown Milwaukee's biggest challenge?
Investment in public infrastructure is key to support the continued private investment. It always seems to be a challenge in our city to find the money to pay for upgrading our parks, streets, sidewalks, etc. We also need to do a better job of attracting corporate and tech jobs from outside the metro region.
What peer cities offer the best examples for Milwaukee to learn from?
Cities like Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Columbus provide good examples for innovative ideas on regional infrastructure and arts funding. Milwaukee, however, is truly a unique city and needs to continue to celebrate and exploit that identity. We need to find our version of a growth engine to retain and attract an influx of new residents.
When you are not working, what are your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and working on my house and yard. I love to travel, which exposes me to new places, ideas and cultures. I document my explorations through photography and sketching. I also have been known to brew my own beer.