05 January 2008

On the wings of a dove

The alabaster steel wings rise over Milwaukee's lakeshore like a gull, poised for flight. Tension wires shimmer like gossamer strands, straining to hold back the impending journey. It is at once structural and organic, geometric and flowing, a stroke of genius in this brewery town rising to the occasion, a gem on Lake Michigan's western shore.
Santiago Calatrava's first US commission, the Milwaukee Art Museum's futuristic addition perched on the lakeshore. The original MAM building that still houses 90-95% of the collection is a prime example of '70s architecture - precast concrete panels creating "floating" cubes of dark wood, few windows and exposed structure. That Calatrava seemingly ignored this existing building yet connected the two seamlessly is a refreshing look at the architecture of additions.

Calatrava plays with light and space throughout this building, expertly marrying geometric angles with organic curves and beautiful details. The placement of a brightly colored Chihuly chandelier in the stark white lobby mirrors Calatrava's use of shape and arrengement to create a truly ethereal experience.

02 January 2008

The frozen land across the lake

The frigid air hits your face as you leave the protective terminal and get in the (thankfully) warm rental car. Heading west on I-94 to north I-43 the lights of Milwaukee quickly fade to black. The aging two lane highway can seem desolate but offers a great opportunity to be alone with your thoughts...or '80s pop blasting from the Sirius radio. There is nothing like rocking out to Guns 'n Roses - Sweet Child 'O Mine as I try to stay within the (slow by Michigan standards) 65 mph speed limit - no tickets on this trip!

A short hour later, the car pulls into the outskirts of Sheboygan and the hotel. After the dark car, the light from the lobby causes temporary squinting as I make my way to the desk and get my key. The room smells slightly of a bad nursing home but then the scent vanishes and I notice the two double beds that suddenly look so much smaller than my queen at home - good thing this is a non-husband trip!

My stomach rumbles and I remember my last meal was five hours ago - as my choices are Arbys or Chili's, I opt for an over-cooked steak and wilted broccoli - at least the potatos were mashed to perfection. Dessert was an apple from the hotel lobby as I settle in for some surfing of the World Wide Web and mindless television drivel in the backround.

What will tomorrow bring?

01 January 2008