Wings Over Lake Michigan

August 06, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

This is the Burke Brise Soleil at the Milwaukee Art Museum. 

  • From Wikipedia: A brise soleil "is an architectural feature of a building that reduces heat gain within that building by deflecting sunlight."

You're looking at an elaborate sunshade!

The Burke Brise Soleil, and the building it shades, the Quadracci Pavilion, were designed by the celebrated Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, and were completed in 2001. I read somewhere that it's named the "Burke" Brise Soleil after the benefactor who financed the building. I haven't been able to verify that (though I have tried) but it seems a reasonable enough attribution. 

I "discovered" this magnificent structure while on a business trip to Milwaukee a couple of years ago. Heading out of Milwaukee by car I heard on the radio about a photographic exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum: The Open RoadPhotography and the American Road Trip.

I had some time on my hands so I decided to detour. I had never been to the Milwaukee Art Museum, so when I spotted the Burke Brise Soleil rising resplendently above the shores of Lake Michigan, I was at once stunned and delighted.

The photography exhibit was well worth the detour, as was the very large collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum, but it's the Burke Brise Soleil that I will remember most clearly about my impromptu visit. 

A few facts about the Burke Brise Soleil: 

  • Wingspan: 217 feet. (I know what you're thinking right now. "How does that compare with the wingspan of a Boeing 747-400?" Answer: the wingspan of a Boeing 747-400 is a mere 211 feet 5 inches)
  • The wings fold and unfold twice daily, depending on the weather
  • The wings contract automatically whenever the wind gets up to 23 mph

The Milwaukee Art MuseumThe Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin





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