Santiago Calatrava and the Organic Side of the MAM

Santiago Calatrava and the Organic Side of the MAM

If you have ever tried to get a firm grasp on the definition of organic architecture, then I hope you have had better luck than I. The organic side of the Milwaukee Art Museum is one not discussed in any publication I have yet seen, but I believe that the roots of the design rest firmly in that area.

Santiago Calatrava is not only an accomplished architect, but he is an artist as well. He sketches and paints rapidly, using the organic form to bring his renderings to life.

Such is the case with the MAM. The structure itself, independently located from previous buildings in the complex, seems to grow out of the very ground upon which it rests. Rising majestically into the Milwaukee sky, the museum sports an incredible pair of white steel wings.

One sign of a well executed building is that it should look whole. Even though it may be comprised of many elements, the assembly should have a cohesiveness to it, a oneness, a wholeness.

This museum succeeds admirably in doing just that. It seems to grow and rise in a totally organic fashion, everything contributing to the whole. The predominance of white everywhere no doubt adds to this perception, but whatever it is, it certainly works well.

Straight lines are not common in nature, nearly everything is curved or of an irregular shape. And so it is with Santiago’s museum. Curves abound, adding immeasurably to the decidedly organic effect which the structure exudes. Whether inside or out, these gentle curves are very easy on the eyes.

The entire complex is nothing less than dynamic in the fullest sense of the word, and this is directly attributable to Santiago Calatravas’ ability to turn his love of art into something truly organic.