Assignment 1: Information on a Building of interest
Building: Milwaukee Art Museum- Quadracci Pavilion c. 1994-2001
Architect: Santiago Calatrava
Question: Does the automatic, Burke Brise-Soleil that adorns the Quadracci Pavillion provide adequate solar shading?
The Burke Brise-Soleil is a kinetic structure with louvers that open like the wings of a bird which adorns the Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee art museum (Calatrava). Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the pavilion, which was built as an extension to the already existing art museum, has a surface area of 142,050 sq. ft. The signature mechanical sunscreen has a wingspan of 217 feet, similar to that of a Boeing 747 (MAM). It is made up of 72 steel fins, ranging in length from 26-105 feet and it takes 3.5 minutes to open and close. Two ultrasonic monitors measure wind speed. If wind speeds exceed 23 mph for more than 3 seconds the wings will close automatically (MAM). The average airspeed in Milwaukee based on a 62 year period is 12.4 mph (LWF). The wings open Tuesday-Sunday at 10 a.m. and close with the museum at 5 p.m., except on Thursday when the museum closes at 8 p.m. Significant data was not available to show how well the Burke-Brise Soleil controls solar gains, but Author, Cheryl Kent, wrote in her book specifically about Calatrava’s design, “Truth be told, the brise-soleil does not do a wonderful job of keeping light out. (Kent, p.93)” Further analysis of the site plan reveals that the wings, when opened fully, face west, leaving the glass façade of the building exposed to direct sunlight for the majority of the day. This leads me to believe that while Calatrava’s design is utterly magnificent in its conception it is for the most part useless as a practical passive solar shade.
For this assignment I utilized three websites; one book on the pavilion; and attempted to contact the building manager at the museum, but due to the holiday weekend no one was available to talk. The results I found were largely descriptive and never really commented on the performance of the Burke brise-soleil itself except for Cheryl Kent’s brief comment in her book. Because I could not reach museum officials to get an idea of how well the solar shade performed I had to rely on the Museums site plan provided to me in Kent’s book to tell what was really going on. Simply by glancing at the plan I could pretty much ascertain the ability of the shade considering it faced due west.
“Average Wind Speed.” LWF. 20 Aug. 2008. Web. 5 Sept. 2010. <http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/online/ccd/avgwind.html>.
Kent, Cheryl. Santiago Calatrava: Milwaukee Art Museum-Quadracci Pavilion. New York: Rizzoli International, 2005. 93. Print.
“Milwaukee Art Museum.” Calatrava. Web. 06 Sept. 2010. <http://www.calatrava.com/main.htm>.
“Quadracci Pavilion.” MAM. Web. 6 Sept. 2010. <http://www.mam.org/info/details/quadracci.php>.