In 1994, the architect, artist and engineer Santiago Calatrava was chosen to design an addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, his first construction in the United States. The Quadracci Pavilion opened in October 2001, combining the latest technology with the strong craft tradition of Milwaukee.
Calatrava proposed a pavilion-type construction on the axis with Wisconsin Avenue, the main street of the city center. Conceived as an independent entity, the pavilion contrasts with the existing set in both geometry and materials, a white form of steel and concrete reminiscent of a ship.
The expansion of the Museum was made possible by the generosity of donors, with significant funds provided by Betty and Harry Quadracci.
The building with its iconic sunscreen in the form of wings and bow and canopy sweeping elements, is a remarkable achievement of engineering and architectural vision. Reinforced concrete design is a study on how Calatrava, in collaboration with other structural engineers and project team members, faced the challenge of implementing their idea of a showcase project that portrays a sense of movement and change.
The Milwaukee-based GRAEF engineering firm joined the project in 1996. The GRAEF team, led by John Kissinger, served as a structural registry engineer, civil engineer and landscape architect, in conjunction with Daniel’s office. Kiley
Calatrava proposed the construction of the pavilion on the axis with Wisconsin Avenue, the main street of downtown Milwaukee, 700 N. Art Museum Drive, Wisconsin, United States, within the Cudahy Gardens of the City’s Art Museum.
Being connected directly to Wisconsin Avenue through a cable walkway, pedestrians can cross Lincoln Memorial Drive on the bridge and continue to the pavilion. Drivers enter through a vaulted underground parking lot where pairs of concrete columns extend towards the center of the garage, forming a series of skeleton elements shaped like a letter “V”.
To design the sculptural Quadracci Pavilion the architect Santiago Calatrava took into account the original building of Eeron Saarinen, the topography of the city and the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Calatrava’s designs are often inspired by nature and present a combination of organic forms and technological innovation. The expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum incorporates multiple elements inspired by its location facing the lake. Among the many maritime elements in the design are: mobile steel blinds inspired by the wings of a bird, a wired pedestrian bridge with a raised mast inspired by the shape of a sailboat and a curved gallery of a single floor reminiscent of a wave.