The Milwaukee Art Museum is a very interesting building complex comprised of design works by Eero Saarinen (1957), David Kahler (1975), and Santiago Calatrava (2001). The Quadracci Pavillion in particular is considered one of the largest transformable design examples built, incorporating both cutting-edge technology and traditional building craftsmanship. On top of the Pavillion’s vaulted, glass-enclosed entrance hall rests the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable, wing-like sunscreen made of 72 steel, folding linear elements ranging in length from 8 to 32 meters. The Brise Soleil weights 90 tons with a wingspan spreading 66 meters at its widest point, a size comparable to that of a Boeing 747-400. It takes 3.5 minutes for the “wings” to open or close, a rather dramatic, sculptural transformation that takes place two times a day. Ultrasonic wind sensors continually monitor wind speed and direction, so whenever winds exceed 23 mph for more than 3 seconds, the “wings” close automatically. According to Santiago Calatrava, “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).”
1, 2, 3: http://www.calatrava.com/
Kent, C. (2005). Santiago Calatrava: Milwaukee Art Museum, Quadracci Pavilion.
New York, NY: Rizzoli. Schulze, F. (2009). Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum.
Manchester, NY: Hudson Hills Press. Tzonis, A. (2004). Santiago Calatrava: Complete Works.
New York, NY: Rizzoli.