Moved by Santiago Calatrava’s Milwaukee Art Museum

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum Oh my…what a building, what a sculpture, what a space, what an experience!  The power of place indeed.

Just two weeks after seeing his bridges in Dublin, I had the opportunity to visit the Santiago Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Museum of Art today.  I had seen the building on a drive-by a few years ago, but this was my first time to see it both inside and out.  The internet is awash with both images and verbiage about this wonderful space.  I’ll only quote the dean of the school of architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (and a member, along with our host, of the selection committee for the building) who told our tour group today,

We got Calatrava when he was unknown and yet at the peak of his creative powers – sort of like the early Beatles, before they became superstars and started adding too many orchestrations.

What you’ll see below is a series of photos showing the “flapping” of the beautiful white wings (really a sunscreen)  from open to close.  Extraordinary as that sounds, I was prepared for that sight.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the beauty and gracefulness of the interior space.  And I certainly wasn’t prepared to see the most elegant parking garage on the face of the planet (at least as I’ve seen it.)

This building opened shortly after 9/11, so much of the world’s attention was elsewhere.  It has worn well over the decade and still remains a remarkable statement about the genius of an architect/engineer/artist and the vision of a community often described as industrial and conservative.

Enough rambling…enjoy the photos and, more importantly, consider a trip to Milwaukee to see this place.

More to come…


Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum Front View

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum Wings Open

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum - Wings on the Way Down

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum With the Wings Almost Completely Lowered

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum with the sunscreen lowered

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum View Toward the Lake

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum View of the Closed Sunscreen from Inside

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum View of the Wing from Inside

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum - The Cathedral-like Connections to the Gallery

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum and the remarkable parking garage

Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum View to the Lake

6 Responses

  1. I didn’t realize how hyperbolic this building was until these pictures… the curves really add a simple elegance to the spaces. This vaguely reminds me of Eero Saarinen’s thin-shell structures using the hyperbola as a more efficient support mechanism.

  2. Andrew, it is interesting that you’d mention this. Several of us were talking while in the building, and Saaranin’s name came up. A colleague mentioned how the TWA Terminal – with its wings ready for flight – could have been an influence, and I also thought of the swoop and curves of Dulles Airport.

  3. […] Milwaukee Art Museum is Calatrava’s most significant design in the US, which made it a natural choice for this piece. […]

  4. […] Moved by Santiago Calatrava’s Milwaukee Art Museum October 2009 3 comments 4 […]

  5. […] the “flapping” of the wings of the Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Museum of Art.  That blog  has been one of the most popular I’ve ever posted, as web surfers have found the images […]

  6. […] First Lady of the U.S. – officially dedicated The Domes in 1965.  I just goes to show that  Calatrava wasn’t the first to design amazing modern architecture in this Midwestern […]

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