Creating an icon for Milwaukee

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee, WI

Kahler Slater was selected by the Milwaukee Art Museum to manifest internationally celebrated Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s vision for an addition to their existing museum. Inspired by the wings of a bird, Calatrava’s watercolor sketches were interpreted by Kahler Slater’s design team to create this landmark museum known around the world for its design and pioneering in engineering.

Known as the Quadracci Pavilion, the addition was proclaimed by Time Magazine as the Best Design of 2001 and was the first U.S. project designed by the famed architect. Instantly recognizable with its aerodynamic planes and mechanical brise soleil, which opens and folds like bird wings, the addition was built entirely inside a concrete envelope sunk into the waters of Lake Michigan. A new main entrance opens into a soaring, 90-ft., reception hall built entirely of glass specially treated to protect the priceless art within. A cabled pedestrian bridge is suspended by a mast, further evoking the feeling of maritime birds and sailboats aloft on light and air. The original museum, an addition to the Saarinen-designed War Memorial Center on Milwaukee’s downtown lakefront, was designed by Kahler Slater to be a completely flexible space for the display of art and an educational center for the region. 

The Milwaukee public instantly embraced the museum as their new point of pride. Today, the iconic image of the winged architecture is the logo for Milwaukee’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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