Bridgette Meinhold

Calatrava's Soaring Pavilion Spreads its Wings to Create Shade

by , 11/03/10

milwaukee art museum, santiago calatrava, sun screen, Burke Brise Soleil, green building, sustainable architecturePhoto © Timothy Hursley

The museum’s most notable feature is its soaring wing-like sun screen set atop the reception hall. Constructed out of steel, 36 fins form the Burke Brise Soleil, which has a wingspan of 217 feet and opens and closes twice a day. During the day, the screen opens up to shade the glass entrance hall from the sun and at night, the screen closes down like a bird folding his wings to sleep. The wingspan is comparable to that of a Boeing 747-400; it has two ultrasonic wind sensors that automatically close the wings if the wind speed reaches 23 mph or greater.

The design for the amazing shaded pavilion and sun screen was conceived back in 1994 and at the time of construction was considered unprecedented. Calatrava’s design was considered challenging and required a significant amount of custom work. As part of the 10th Anniversary, the museum will honor Calatrava and his design for the museum with a special exhibition starting in September. In February a special exhibition on Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture will commence the celebrations.

+ Milwaukee Museum of Art

+ Santiago Calatrava

Images Courtesy of Milwaukee Museum of Art

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