The Milwaukee Art Museum is an architectural landmark, comprised of three buildings designed by three legendary architects: Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava.
The War Memorial Center, completed in 1957, was designed by the Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen to create a new home for two previously separate art collections and a veterans memorial. The modernist building is shaped like a floating cross, with wings cantilevered from a central base. Saarinen’s innovative design won praise for its dramatic use of space; Time magazine called it “one of the country’s finest examples of modern architecture put to work for civic purposes.”
The Quadracci Pavilion is the iconic sculptural addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Highlights of the building, completed in 2001, are the magnificent cathedral-like space of Windhover Hall, with a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling; the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily; and the Reiman Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge that connects the Museum to the city.
The Museum grounds were redesigned in conjunction with the Quadracci Pavilion, with a network of gardens, plazas, and fountains created by landscape architect Dan Kiley to parallel the addition. Kiley was known for his formal geometric approach to landscape design. His understated Cudahy Gardens use a grid of lawns divided by hedgerows and linear fountains to create a forecourt for the Museum. Kiley’s plan for the entrance plaza was inspired by the clean lines of Calatrava’s work, intended to synthesize the dynamics of the city, the building, and the natural environment.