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DESIGNER
SANTIAGO CALATRAVA
DATE
2001
LOCATION
Milwaukee, WI, USA
TYPE
cultural
USE
Museum
Milwaukee Art Museum: Quadracci Pavilion

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).”

 

TRANSFORMABLE DESIGN FEATURES AT A GLANCE
PRINCIPLE
PHENOMENOLOGICAL
folding
ACTUAL
folding
TYPE
PHENOMENOLOGICAL
linear elements
ACTUAL
linear elements
SYSTEM
enhanced mechatronic
ELEMENTS
Sun-shading roof elements
Application Framework
Enclosed Space Open Space
Private Space Public Space
Passive Communication Active
Project Scale
Kinetic Elements Scale
Equipment
People
Intensity of Activity
Fluctuation of Intensity
Periodicity of Fluctuation
Design
New Design Intervention
Requires Support Self Supported
Simple Geometry Complex Geometry
Low Tech High Tech
Manual System Intelligent System
Surface Transformation
Volume Transformation
Morphological Variations
Modularity
Portability
Adaptability
Sustainability
Materials
Conventional Sophisticated
Elastic Rigid
Transparent Opaque
Warm Cold
Weight
Maintenance
Insulation
COST (estimation)

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Image source:

1, 2, 3: http://www.calatrava.com/

Further Reading:

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.