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?!
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 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.
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.