A Modern Dynamic Structure: Milwaukee Art Museum written by Leyla Yildiz
There is an impressive building in every sense in the world. An outstanding creativity was used on this structure. It’s a spectacular product of high technology and genius engineering. In addition to this, it became a very artistic work rather than being just a structure. Besides, it’s an expression of movement and change. It’s form is alive and dynamic. Thus, all of these descriptions indicate one building which is Milwaukee Art Museum. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava. It is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. This museum receives thousands of visitors in every year. Interestingly, it exhibits it’s own structure as well as exhibiting many historical and cultural artifacts. This museum has a coast on lake Michigan and it has a very well coherence with it’s environment.
Originally, the structure of this museum was built as just two-floor and a war memorial by Eero Saarinen in 1957. This very modernist architect used space dramatically. After that, David Kahler created a bigger space for this museum in 1975. He connected the museum to the city with a concrete bridge. Then, Calatrava designed a new addition which is called Quadracci Pavillion inspired by soaring birds, sailboats and the lake in 2001, which links to a boulevard with a pedestrian bridge.
Spanish architect Calatrava is also a civil engineer, sculptor and painter. Actually, on this amazing structure there are many effects of his engineering. Because, it is not just a common building. It shows the dramatic combination of architecture and engineering. Moreover, it refers to many artistic sculpture. According to a resource, Calatrava always wanted to find the statement of dynamism and make forms movable and changeable since his childhood. He tried to think of ways to give sense of movement to the objects and solve this paradox. He wanted to design dynamic and collapsible structures rather than following the fixed architecture rules about being stable and steady. This structure shows many impressions of art and natural forms. For instance, it looks like the forms of foldable bird wings designed by Leonardo Da Vinci. Also, it has many resemblances of human arm.
When we mention about the whole building, it is a really compatible construction with it’s context. It has a number of facts about sea inspired by the locaiton which is to the lake. It looks like yachts and sailboats, and also it’s steely wings remind flying seagulls. The movement of steel wings indicate sea wave. Moreover, the form of cable bridge looks like a sail. Then, it’s color is same with the seagulls, sails and has a relationship with the surrounding structures.
The whole structure consist of white steel and concrete. Steel is the most durable element in construction materials. Therefore, wings, bridge and the other structural systems are connected to eachother in a very strong way. There is a suspended bridge which connects to the pavillion and gets support from it. This design of bridge refers to very basic structural shelter tents. It uses tension and stress forces. In this bridge there are compression forces on the steel pylon and deck to the foundations like the pavillion. Also the steel cables (tension elements) stress the bridge. Thus, it becomes durable. Besides, there is an abutment like boomerang which resists the suspension bridge’s pulling force. Framing of glass ceiling and building spine rest on the pavilion and the back stay beam. The leaning elements on the glass framing (wings) are connected to the building spine. And then, this spine and the bridge’s pylon are parallel to eachother. They are bending 48.36 degrees towards to the pavillion.
On the glass ceiling, brise-soleil and movable elements were used. It looks like bird’s body. There is a spine in the middle and two very flexible wings are attached to it. Each of these wings have 36 rectangular sticks. They are also made of steel element. They are framing the sun light. It changes it’s own angle according to the sun. A hydraulic system in the middle controls these wings. They moves according to the external forces like wind load and thunderbolt. When there is a really strong wind, the wings roof the glass facade. These steel wings create a very nice ambience (light and shadow) indoor space. And also, these wings break the greenhouse effect that glass surfaces create inside. This ceiling were made of huge and curved glass surfaces which are supported with steel elements. Besides this facade gives a very well landscape to the lake.
The load transportation in the pavillion building is like on this cross section’s sketch.
In this image, some forces and other important structural processes were clearly showed. Red color indicate the largest bending moment on the structure. Green diagram shows where shear forces are at the highest level. And the all load transportation and forces were balanced in a very genius way.
This structure is very functional. It has many public spaces in a very well design. There is parking floor in underground. Then,in the lower floor, there are some meeting space, terrace and restaurant. In the main floor, there are many different spaces like reception hall, exhibition hall, lobby and terrace. It’s also ground level. In the mezzanine floor (Calatrava’s additon) there is a connection with the bridge. There is lobby, board room and existing galleries. All these exhibition spaces, terraces, cafes, stores, auditorium and parking area create very useful and equipped public space. Besides, under the bridge a public space (like a garden) was created. People can use also this area.
To sum up, Calatrava designed a very dramatic structure by using the convenience of the context, his extensive engineering knowledge and artistic skills. It looks like a flying bird to the lake. It has very emotional sense. To my way of thinking, these kind of architecture works and arcihtects should be encouraged and supported. Then, the structures arround us could be very modern and inspirational rather than being very common high buildings.
Greene R., (2013), How Santiago Calatrava Blurred The Lines Between Architecture and Engineering To Make Buildings Move, Archdaily, Retrieved January 3, 2015 from http://www.archdaily.com/321403/how-santiago-calatrava-blurred-the-lines-between-architecture-and-engineering-to-make-buildings-move/
Calatrava’nın Kanatları, (2010), Mimdap, Retrieved January 3, 2015 from http://www.mimdap.org/?p=44610
Nichols, A., (2004), Example Case Study: Milwaukee Art Museum, Retrieved January 3, 2015 from http://www.solaripedia.com/files/979.pdf
Quadracci Pavillion, (n.d.), Milwaukee Art Museum Info, Retrieved January 3, 2015 from http://mam.org/info/details/quadracci.php
Architecture, (n.d.), Milwaukee Art Museum Info, Retrieved January 3, 2015 from http://mam.org/info/architecture.php
PS: The hand sketches are belong to me. The other images and Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings are from google images.