Milwaukee Art Museum

We just landed back in Denver yesterday, after visiting Chicago and Milwaukee. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Milwaukee Art Museum designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. I’ve seen photos, but in person the all white bird like architecture was even more dramatic. The first thing that captures your attention are the massive wings, called Burke Brise Soliel. 

The wings are designed to open and and retract serving as a sunscreen. Sensors monitor the wind and if speeds reach 23 mph, they automatically go down. They are as wide as a 747's wingspan and open up at 10AM and go down at 5PM each day, aligning with the museum’s hours open to the public.

I think from this perspective it looks like an old high speed Concorde jet about to lift off. Remember those?!

Liz taking a photo of the Quadracci Pavillion © JC Buck 2015

The sculpture, post modern design of the Quadracci Pavilion was a collaboration between a very motivated client and an architect pushing himself to create his best work. The original sketches were apparently significantly more modest, but with an increase in the budget and a very enthusiastic client, Calatrava was able to do what he does best, create iconic architecture.

The wings open during business owners from 10a-5P, a symbolic welcoming to the people of Milwaukee. © 2015 JC Buck

I had clients that truly wanted from me the best architecture I could do. Their ambition was to create something exceptional for their community.

Thanks to them, this project responds to the culture of the lake; the sail boats, the weather, the sense of motion and change.
— Santiago Calatrava

The handmade post modern concrete structure was formed using traditional techniques of using one of a kind wooden molds to pour the concrete in place. © JC Buck 2015

The Quadracci Pavilion is primarily made up of the museum's public spaces. The 142,050 sq ft all white structure houses the Windhover Hall, a modern interpretation of a Gothic Cathedral. There is also a cafe, auditorium, museum store and 10,000 sq ft of exhibition space. The public space is minimalistic, with no furnishings and very little art displayed, for visitors to truly be engaged with the architecture and its Lake Michigan setting. 

In the crowning element of the brise soleil, the building’s form is at once formal (completing the composition), functional (controlling the level of light), symbolic (opening to welcome visitors), and iconic (creating a memorable image for the Museum and the city).
— Santiago Calatrava

I had never been to Milwaukee and was excited to see the city. I was born and raised in Minnesota and miss the water, so just being by the lake alone would have been satisfying enough, but to spend the afternoon admiring Milwaukee’s very own Santiago Calatrava designed museum was a nice bonus.

- JC

© JC Buck 2015