Analysis of Milwaukee Art Museum for Urban Planning 140
The city had numerous problems that they were hoping to clear up with the completion of the
expansion to the original Milwaukee Art Museum. The first problem that the new addition
needed to face was the need for more space for new incoming art work. Milwaukee was also
facing the issue of not having a strong icon that the city can associate with on a national level.
Another problem that Milwaukee had to deal with was the lack of downtown connection to Lake
First off, the museum has been a staple of the art community since the two original
Milwaukee art galleries combined. In 1957 the Layton Art Gallery (founded in 1888) and the
Milwaukee Art Institute (founded in the early 1900's) combined to form the new Milwaukee Art
Museum. The original building was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1957. This building soon
needed an update, therefore, David Kahler was hired to add to the current building in 1975. Even
with the new space for art work and the work of two great architects the museum was getting
Second, Milwaukee was also in need of a stronger community presence. Some people will
say that city hall is the icon of Milwaukee but this is not enough of a landmark piece for many.
Milwaukee did not have a structure that was easily recognizable to those visiting from other
cities. To outsiders, Milwaukee looked like the old Midwest blue collar community that it was.
In the past the Domes had been interesting to many, but the intrigue around them has slowly died
down as they become older.
Lastly, Milwaukee had the problem that there was no connection to the lakefront from the
nearby downtown area. Community activities on the lakefront were not taking place like they
should in a city so near one of the Great Lakes. The lake front was primarily used by people
looking at the views available. There were a lot of independent activities happening on the
beach, however, there was no community presence. There was also a lack of literal connection
to the lakefront for those wishing to walk there. For children on their way to O’Donnell Park,
Lincoln Memorial Drive can be especially dangerous to try to cross. Lincoln Memorial Drive is
a very busy road and it was much to dangerous to try and cross without the installation of a
stoplight. This would have slowed the flow of traffic on the road. The Calatrava addition to the
Milwaukee Art Museum began construction with hopes of giving all of these problems the
Garvin’s Six Ingredients of Success
Alexander Garvin, the author of the book The American City, wrote “There is no formula that
guarantees a desirable private market reaction in response to public action. However, six
ingredients must be intelligently dealt with for any project to succeed...” (The American City pg.
10). Those ingredients are: financing, design, time, entrepreneurship, market and location. First,
financing is important because a great idea without the money to complete it remains only an
idea; it can never get off the ground. Second, design is a key element because a building that
works poorly with its intended use can not be considered a success. Third, time is a factor to
consider because it takes into account the time a person is experiencing the project, what occurs
in the project one a daily basis and how the community interacts with the project over many
decades. Fourth, entrepreneurship is worth considering simply because it involves how those
involved with the project see an opportunity and wish to take advantage of it, without these risk
takers there would be too much uncertainty to complete it without a few questions. Fifth, market
is important because it takes into consideration the need in the community for the building, if
there is no need for a project to be completed then there is no project. Lastly, location needs to be
considered because it involves the advantages involved with the building site and the relative
distance to other attractions, housing areas and commercial spaces. Without regard for these six
principles of success a project is much more likely to be considered a failure, therefore, these are
very important to analyze in new construction and renovation projects.
In order to make a good idea come to life, there needs to be money to support it. The
Milwaukee Art Museum is no exception. The finances surrounding the art museum is a bit
extraordinary, however. The original projected cost for the Santiago Calatrava designed
expansion was forty million dollars, this went up to one hundred and twenty million dollars. This
increase in spending left the museum with a large financial deficit. Avoiding bankruptcy or
closure required some nimble paper work, and the trust of community banks and organizations.
. The original projected cost for the Milwaukee Art Museum was forty million dollars, this
number went up three times during the completion of the project to one hundred and twenty
million dollars. Those investing in the new Quadracci Pavilion and the expansion to the gallery
space believed it would cost forty million when the project was completed. After the
construction price went up the owners of the building were faced with an eighty million dollar
short fall. The price of the final building continually went up not because of underestimated
construction costs, but because of continuous addition to the original plan. The final building was
nearly two and a half times the size of the first drawings! They had also spent ten million dollars
on the Cudahy Gardens and other landscaping work on the site. This translates to a fourth of the
original estimated cost for the entire building. In order to remedy this deficit a financial wizard is
going to have to complete some creative and genius calculations.
The first thing the owners of the Milwaukee Art Museum did was ask Santiago Calatrava to
reduce his payment for the design to just under twenty percent of the final cost, this move
reduced how much he was getting paid and therefore how much money the museum had to come
up with. Before the expansion began the museum had been asking the community for pledges
for several years. They had acquired twenty-six million dollars in pledges. The next idea that
arose was to sell the naming rights to the new building. The rights for the movable Brise Soliel
were sold to a man named Murph Burke who contributed 1.5 million dollars for the rights. The
names to many of the rooms in the building were also sold to others. For example, Northwestern
Mutual bought the rights to a conference room with space for seventy-five people. This is not the
only room that is named; there is also the Windhover Reception Hall, which is the space beneath
the Brise Soleil that accomodates between five hundred and one thousand five hundred people.
In total there are eight rooms in the Quadracci Pavilion that has had their names sold to earn
money for the construction. Another maneuver used to pick up the short falls was applying to
many banks for bonds. They applied to Bank One, Marshell & Llsley, Park Bank, U.S. Bank,
and State Financial Bank for forty-nine million dollars in thirty-year industrial revenue bonds.
The bonds were issued through the City of Milwaukee’s Redevelopment Authority so that the
bonds could be tax free. The museum had also applied for loans from several banks including the
Northwestern Mutual Insurance company. These groups agreed to convert the museum’s credit
line into a forty-seven million dollar, five-year loan. The banks originally wanted the art work as
collateral but the museum director refused. If the director were to have done that then the
Milwaukee Art Museum would lose tons of public support for the project. So the museum used
their only other form of credit, which was the twenty-six million dollars in pledges. In 2001,
alone, twenty percent of the museum’s budget went to paying the interest on the loans. The
museum also included their estimated operating expenses and revenue in their decision of how
much many to borrow. They estimated that the project would call for an increase to one million
dollars for maintenance. Five hundred thousand dollars for the new security and another two
hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the utilities and cleaning apiece. The operating expenses
were covered even though it had doubled after the project was completed to ten million dollars.
It came from the newly generated revenue involved with sales in the gift shop. The gift shop had
increased their income from three hundred thousand dollars to five hundred thousand dollars,
despite being closed for three months during construction. Attendance at the museum also rose.
Atttendance had grown past the projected three hundred and fifty thousand people to a much
larger size of four hundred sixty-six thousand visitors in 2001. Add in the increased number of
memberships after the addition is completed and there are seven hundred seventy-eight thousand
two hundred and sixty-one members.
Calatrava’s design for the Milwaukee Art Museum addition solved or at least helped to solve
Milwaukee’s need for a landmark, a connection linking downtown to the lakefront, and also
increasing the gallery space in the museum.
Since the end of the sixties, Milwaukee has gone from a top 20 city to just recently a second
tier city in the United States. The new Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum helped
significantly in giving Milwaukee a national and even global landmark. Santiago Calatrava
design demonstrates many underlying themes which correlate to the lakefront. Some prime
examples and characteristics of the design can be compared in the addition. Such as, the two
hundred and thirty one foot suspended pedestrian bridge that spans Lincoln Memorial Drive has
the distinct appearance of a ship sail. Also, the moveable two hundred foot long steel louvers,
Brise-Soleil that can fold down to the sides of the main hall and open up look strikingly like the
wings of a bird ready to fly from the shore. The single story gallery that is positioned north of
the entrance has been compared to a wave crashing into the shore. Even the gallery gives the
feeling of being in the belly of a whale with the support truss emulating the ribs of some great
sea creature. "Rather than just add something to the existing buildings, I also wanted to add
something to the lakefront. I have therefore worked to infuse the building with a certain
sensitivity to the culture of the lake - the boats, the sails and the always changing landscape".
Santiago Calatrava. But what does this have to do with making a landmark for Milwaukee?
Santiago Calatrava brought with him a large amount of hype, international popularity, and even
growing celebrity to Milwaukee and left a modern engineering masterpiece in his wake.
Before the Calatrava addition, the most noticeable landmarks for Milwaukee were arguably
the Allen-Bradley clock tower and/or the City Hall. Milwaukee has long been know for its
conservative on buy if you can afford it attributes, thus the cities main landmarks have been
prominently the Allen-Bradley clock tower and/or City Hall. Both of these buildings are
exceptional examples of architecture, but they do not portray Milwaukee as being a modern,
bustling city in any regard. Because of this, possible businesses, and the residents they would
attract, haven looked at Milwaukee as a possible home. The Calatrava is changing this on both
the national and global stage. Besides the Sydney Opera House, what other city in the world has
contemporary architecture as the city logo? Milwaukee is investing in its future.
Despite the extraordinary amount of progressive ideas and design that the Calatrava means to
many, some feel that it was a complete disaster. Professor Hanlon, a freshman architecture
professor stated recently in a lecture that the Calatrava addition looked like a turkey carcass!
Hanlon went on to support his degrading comment by stating how architecture today must look
more to the future of the environment and the conservation of energy instead of putting
contemporary design on a pedestal. As one looks more closely at the design of the Calatrava
through an environmentalist eyes, they can see where Hanlon is coming from. The addition
supposedly added around thirty percent more square foot space to the building, but the amount of
display space added was marginal. The Professor also proclaimed that the yearly operating cost
was around one million two hundred thousand dollars. Obviously the Calatrava does have some
draw backs as just about any type of architecture can have attributed to it. On the check list for
the added museum display space, the Calatrava failed for the amount of resources invested in it.
Regardless of these negatives, the Calatrava does solve a specific problem for Milwaukee.
The way in which Lincoln Memorial Drive physically and psychologically cuts downtown
Milwaukee from the Lake Michigan shoreline proves problematic, but the Calatrava addition
resolves this problem via its suspended bridge that connects Wisconsin Ave., technically
O’Donnell Park to the lakefront. There is only one other cable-stayed bridge in Wisconsin, a
pedestrian in Menomonee Falls spans Highway 45. Santiago Calatrava originally wanted the
western portion of the main hall, the bird head to be actually over the Lake Michigan water.
After reevaluating the drawings, he realized that the building would not be as well connected
with the city. Because of this, he moved this portion of the addition back. In this way, the whole
building in design terms is a connection of Milwaukee with the shoreline.
Probably the greatest benefit of the Calatrava addition, is the new-found stature that many
Milwaukeeans now feel. Sure the connection to the lakefront and the increased museum
attendance are all positive results of the addition, but Milwaukee needed a “flag ship” to lead
their city and themselves into the modern age. And they got it!
In dealing with the three major problems the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art
Museum, need for a landmark, connection from downtown to the lakefront, and creating more
space for artwork, the addition helped particularly in the ime aspect with the landmark problem.
But the ime aspect also brought another important benefit to the city of Milwaukee, a money
The money maker characteristic of the Calatrava is two fold. First of all, the unintentional
delay of the grand opening helped greatly with attendance, people would come back so see the
ever-changing, improving, features on the project. Second, the hours of the Calatrava help
provide steady business for local commerce throughout the day and evening.
The original goal for the unveiling was to be New Year Eve 1999. However, due to extended
testing on the brise soleil, the wings, the final phase of the addition, the Quadracci Pavilion,
Cudahy Gardens, and brise soleil was opened mid October 2001 to the public. This delay seems
almost strategically created because it takes advantage of the summer months, has multiple
occasions, and keeps the public wanting to see more.
In general, three time progressions define the success of a building. The first of these is the
brief moment when a person passes by an area. The second is the twenty four hours a day, seven
days a week bracket. The third is the period of change over many years. When a person walks
or drives by the Calatrava, they e eyes quickly trace out the curvilinear design from the side.
From the view on Wisconsin Ave. the stunning symmetry is obvious as it is centered on the
street. This has a double sided effect on the establishment in the region. Visitors are either
drawn further down Wisconsin Ave. through the Grand Avenue mall or they are agnetically
drawn even further toward the lakefront. Sure, other restaurants and museums (The Betty Brinn
Children Museum in specific), but the true focal point of Milwaukee tourist venders are located
further west on Wisconsin Ave. Summing up this period, it seems as though the addition isn the
best for vendors not in direct proximity from the Calatrava. The twenty-four hours a day seven
days a week bracket is somewhat better. The art museum is open from ten a.m. until five p.m.
seven days a week, except on Thursdays when it is open until eight p.m. The hours of the
museum take full advantage of the lunch and beginning dinner hours of the day, keeping visitors
in a close propinquity of the building for their eating needs. This brings business to the
surrounding restaurants. The additional hours on Thursdays introduce visitors to Milwaukee
downtown night life, which is a great benefit to the surrounding region. The fact that the
museum is open seven days a week means that weekend tourists are abundant bringing business
to the surrounding retailers and restaurants seven days a week also. When stepping back and
investigating the positives and negatives of the Calatrava from a broader time period (decades),
the outcomes aren as clear. This is because of how recently it was built. But some trends,
benefits can already be seen. For instance the museum now has thirty-thousand members which
is up from thirteen-thousand, three years ago. After the first year about forty percent of the four-
hundred sixty-six thousand people in attendance were from out of state compared to roughly
twenty-five percent in previous years. Sure, the attendance has been dropping since the grand
opening, but the attendance is still much larger than before the addition. So far Milwaukee
contribution to the Bilboa effect has provided positive influences to the city, but only time will
tell if this trend continues.
Public and private entrepreneurs often work together in order to get a project finished.
The Santiago Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum is no exception. The Quadracci
Pavilion is financed almost entirely by private companies and other private investors in the local
Milwaukee community. The expansion was originally estimated at thirty million dollars
however, after the original design was continually expanded upon, the project ballooned to
around one-hundred and twenty million dollars. However, the owners of the building were able
to make the numbers work for the new addition through refinancing and extra revenue.
The larger size of the addition meant that more investors had to be found and the current
investors needed to give more money to the project. For their investment in the Quadracci
Pavilion the private companies investors received a building that brings consumers into the
community. This investment into the Milwaukee area can pay very favorable dividends in the
long run for the companies investing money Entrepreneurship is all about seeing an opportunity
and taking advantage of it, regardless of the risk associated with it. The companies and people
investing in the museum have thrown caution to the wind and are donating their money to a
cause they believe in and a project that can help the local economy. With the completion of the
new addition more people should flock into the Milwaukee area to see it. The more out of town
visitors the city gains, the more hotels, restaurants and local commerce centers beneift. If these
people who are in charge of such places do not see the opportunity or choose not to embrace the
opportunity then this project would have failed miserably.
To help the entrepreneurs investing their money, the Calatrava addition itself, also helps bring
extra revenue. This can be used to pay for some of the cost of the construction, which lessens the
load on the investors. The pavilion includes a restaurant, three hundred person conference
center, gift shop and lots of open space that gets rented out for weddings, corporate meetings and
public congregations. The reason for the increase in construction costs is mainly due to the
expansion of the original design. The original design was supposed to be fifty-eight thousand
square feet, the final design was one hundred and forty-two thousand five hundred square feet
and included landscaping by Daniel Kiley. The size increase translates to almost two and a half
times the original size. This caused well documented financial strain on the museum. It was
even written by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that in order to combat the deficit caused by the
Calatrava addition that the Milwaukee Art Museum used its art as collateral for issuing a $48
million bond. This, however, was not true. Also, the museum saved money by using bonds to
refinance, that way they could avoid state and federal taxes. This project has not all been
negative, however. The museum actually made money by having three different grand openings.
The first was used to open the new museum store and the auditorium. The second was used to
open the rest of the Quadracci Pavilion, this includes the Reiman pedestrian bridge and the
interior gallery/convention space. The final grand opening involved the unveiling of the Brise
Soleil and the Cudahy Gardens. By spacing out the grand openings the same people would come
to the museum to see the new features and how the rest of the project was progressing. Rather
surprisingly, the ratio of money spent on building the museum to people attending the museum is
well below the national average. The twenty-nine dollars per visitor is much lower than the
national average of forty-seven dollars per visitor. This ratio helps to show that the Calatrava
addition can almost be considered an economically sound decision. Another positive of the
pavilion is that the museum gained worldwide publicity by being chosen as Time magazine’s
best design for 2001. This brought national attention to the Milwaukee area, which was exactly
what the local donators hoped would happen. The added national attention brought more people
to Milwaukee because of the attention, more money was spent in the city by visitors of the
museum. Therefore, the final product fulfilled the dreams and wishes of those investing their
hard earned money into the city of Milwaukee and The Milwaukee Art Museum.
The best way to tell if a project has been a succes is to see if the market surrounding the
project has incresed through time. The Calatrava addition has not been in the community long
enough to fully decide whether it is a success of failure. However, the market for the Milwaukee
Art Museum has grown since the Calatrava addition has been finished. Now, not only does the
museum attract those who want to view the artwork, but also those that want to see the nationally
acclaimed Quadracci Pavilion. The market for the new pavilion is very obviously quite abundant
because the fund-raisers were able to get many private investors to donate their hard earned
money towards the project. The addition of the pavilion doubled the initial two-hundred
thousand estimate of attendance in the first full year. Before the addition, the Milwaukee Art
Museum earned a lower percentage of its annual budget from attendance and gift shop sales than
the national average. Now, the museums attendance and gift shop ratio to annual budget has
gone over the average national levels. In addition to gift shop sales and attendance going up, the
contributions have also risen above the national average of five percent of the annual budget to
twelve percent. These trends show, that in the short run, the market for the museum has
increased because of the Quadracci Pavilion, and that buildings designed by fascinating
architects like Santiago Calatrava are in high demand in the United States.
The Calatrava expansion to the Milwaukee Art Museum has an excellent location looking
out onto Lake Michigan and looking back down the heart of Milwaukee’s downtown, Wisconsin
Avenue. This perfect location provides a visual and literal bridge linking Milwaukee’s
downtown and the lake. Milwaukee has always been lacking a way to truly connect the city with
Lake Michigan. Milwaukee has a bigger city downtown feel with skyscrapers in the downtown
that just seems to end at the edge of Lincoln Memorial Drive. At the same time one cannot
propose putting a skyscraper in the middle of Veteran’s Park as a link between the lake and the
downtown and be in their right mind. The Calatrava expansion solves this dilemma beautifully
by incorporating a pedestrian bridge over Lincoln Memorial Drive, providing easy, car dodging-
less access, with an artistic structure to focus on and draw ones attention down Wisconsin
Avenue towards the lake. Cities are made up of edges, the challenge is to seam these edges
together forming a flowing consistent feel to the city while making it diverse. The pedestrian
bridge to the Art Museum is one such seam.
It is located a couple blocks north of Pier Wisconsin, the location of the new HGA
Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin. Such close proximity of the new HGA building to the
already present Calatrava expansion has been taken into account with many voices saying both
good and bad. W.E.H.A.T.E.C.R.A.I.G. feels that this new structure does not take away from the
art museum in any way. A few years ago a different building was being proposed, one that had
strong sail-like characteristics. This building was never passed in part because of it close
proximity to the Calatrava expansion, which also adorns sail-like characteristics.1 The new
Discovery World building being built at Pier Wisconsin should only accentuate the Calatrava
with its simple design.
The Calatrava expansion is adjacent to the Historic Third Ward, which is located just to
the southwest of the art museum. This close proximity to the Third Ward has appeared to act
almost as a catalyst for the community, encouraging rebirth and growth. The closeness of the art
museum expansion and the summerfest grounds provides a knockout punch in terms of helping
give Milwaukee new life. “Eleven years ago, the ward had an assessed value of 40 million
1 Angry words sail in dispute over lakefront
dollars; today, it’s 531 million dollars.2” The Third Ward use to be filled with old warehouses
and factories, but now has gone through a transformation to condos and offices.
W.E.H.A.T.E.C.R.A.I.G. feels that this is part due to the art museum expansion, proving to
residents and tourists that Milwaukee is not a dead city, but one that is just waiting to be reborn.
The Calatrava expansion paved the way for new ideas and new architecture. When a person
walks downtown, they would see lots of old styled architecture, giving off an impression that
new contemporary architecture would not fit in these surroundings. They could not be any more
wrong. With time this catalyst will ignite the entire city, all thanks to proper planning and
Projects can pass or fail depending on the planning put into it, but they also are not just a
success or failure. One has to look at the individual ingredients that Garvin spoke of. In some
cases the project may pass in some regards, but fail in others, it is relatively impossible that a
project can completely lack faults. When looking at design from a planning perspective, the
Calatrava expansion was a success and a failure. It solved problems like creating a landmark for
Milwaukee. The new Calatrava expansion has brought in so many tourists and so much
commerce for the surrounding community, that it only had a positive effect on other businesses.
The project was a failure in that it did not completely solve the problem of needing more art
space. The structure has many large spaces and conference rooms, but not enough needed
When looking at time from the planning perspective, the expansion was a success. Even
though some may say it was a failure because it of the constant delays on the grand opening,
W.E.H.A.T.E.C.R.A.I.G. sees that as a positive point. Because of the many openings with the
2 Vision, energy steer Third Ward Revival
project being partially completed, many of the art museums patrons would keep returning with
every opening to see the new updates to the building. If there were only one grand opening,
people would come to see the expansion and then the hype would be up. By having many
openings, it kept the expansion in the papers, news, and minds of citizens of Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, and the United States.
When looking at location from a planning perspective, the Calatrava Art Museum
expansion was a success. It acted as a catalyst that ignited the city, and one can see the effects
just by walking in the Third Ward. What used to be a dreary factory and warehouse district
turned into a revamped condominium and office district. There is now a direct bridge over
Lincoln Memorial Drive to the expansion making accessibility to the art museum easier and that
much more enticing to venture towards. The location of the expansion has had only positive
effects on the city of Milwaukee.
Through careful analysis of the Santiago Calatrava designed addition to the Milwaukee
Art Museum the project can be deemed an overall success. The reason for the addition was the
need for more gallery space, which was increased by thirty percent.
Also, it has given the Milwaukee community a landmark piece that has garnered national
attention for the museum and the city. Finally, the Reiman bridge, which is part of the addition,
successfully connects downtown Milwaukee to the Lake Michigan shore line. Three of Garvin’s
six principles for a successful building, location, market and time can all be considered
overwhelmingly well done. The other three principles, entrepreneurship, financing and design,
all contain major positives and a few drawbacks. In the end, Calatrava’s work on the Milwaukee
Art Museum fits in well with the city, and gives its inhabitants a piece of art to marvel at and be