Transforming the beauty of skeletons into architecture

Inspired by nature in motion, Spanish-born Santiago Calatrava will create his first U.S. project for the Milwaukee Art Museum

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

"We wanted an architect who would maybe take us somewhere that we hadn't quite imagined," says Russell Bowman, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. And so, for its planned $27-million addition, the museum recently chose Santiago Calatrava. At 45 years old, the Spanish-born architect is already well known in his native country as well as in the rest of Europe, where most of his train stations, bridges and other major public structures have been built.

Calatrava is inspired by natural forms in movement — waves undulating, trees bending to the wind, flower petals opening. The pavilion roof of his Milwaukee museum addition, for example, will open like the wings of a swan; and the slanting concrete pillars of his enormous Satolas airport train station outside Lyon, France, seem to stretch like the legs of dancers. To introduce Americans to its architect of choice, the Milwaukee Art Museum has organized a retrospective of Calatrava's work, consisting of models, sketches and other documentation of 14 of his projects. It opens at the Milwaukee Art Museum on November 22 and will run through January 12, 1997.

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus