Form meets function
Published: May 1, 2009
By James Kogutkiewicz
Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant in Milwaukee needed contractors to build out an interior that was not only attractive and allowed for full view of the Milwaukee River, but also was functional and safe.
Jay Supple, chief executive of Supple Restaurant Group Inc., Oshkosh, wanted the restaurant’s interior to match the nautical theme of his other restaurants.
General contractor VJS Construction Services Inc., Pewaukee, and architect Kahler Slater Inc., Milwaukee, ultimately came up with a plan to place 4-foot, 8-foot and 12-foot wall sections with porthole-like cutouts in them throughout the long, narrow dining room of the Third Ward restaurant.
The portholes, while inviting to guests, required some protection to prevent anything from being dropped inside them. VJS covered them with clear plastic.
“The hole acted as a way to kind of bring the space back so it’s opened up again, and also to kind of mimic that porthole look,” said Aaron Duffy, construction manager with VJS Construction Services. “It can’t be something that you can’t see through. You’re going to look at it.
People are going to touch it. … It draws people’s attention.”
Duffy said another unique feature of the project was the installation of “glowing walls.” VJS carpenter foreman John McLaughlin and VJS job superintendent Dale Winters came up with idea, he said.
The steel-stud walls were covered with a translucent plastic material on both sides. Beneath the plastic material are more plastic layers, and, in the core of the walls, are light-emitting diode lights.
The result of all the different layers is an effect that gives the walls depth and structural heft, Duffy said.
The final product of the build out melds design with practicality and was one example of VJS answering, as Duffy put it, the important question about satisfying the requirements for Fratellos: “How does this all function?”