By Jessica Grafton
On our trip junior year, we were able to see the Milwaukee Art Museum addition by Santiago Calatrava. Surprisingly enough, I knew nothing about Calatrava’s work prior to this trip, and needless to say, I was thoroughly swept away by the building. Someone had told me on our way about the wings, and of course, I was like, Huh? Wings? To go into it blind and then see something so unique was an outstanding experience.
The thought process behind the design and its nautical theme is so evident and intricate at the same time. You feel that you really understand where the designer was going and what he wanted to accomplish inside and out.
On the exterior, the bright white structure against a blue sky and the water beyond is all you need to imagine setting sail. The long gang plank leads you to your destination and gives the perfect view of the infamous wings that fold in on themselves at certain times of the day. The wings at full span even remind me a bit of a whale’s tail peeking above the water.
Even after entering the building, the feeling of being on a ship remains. The front lobby opens to a view of the lake with an expanse of windows that are reminiscent of a ship’s bow, and carries the theme throughout. Everything flows together as an entity that inspires the thought of being somewhere else. The design stays true to Calatrava’s aesthetic but is also distinctive in its purpose.