28 march 1999

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Museum wing takes form - The Business Journal

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From the The Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1999/03/29/story2.html

Museum wing takes form The Business Journal - by Shannon Stevens Date: Sunday, March 28, 1999, 11:00pm CST It was obvious along the lake on March 23 that spring had arrived. Runners, strollers, rollerbladers, dogs, even ducks were taking in the lunch-hour sun. But the most excitement on the shores of Lake Michigan was not to be found amid the warm rays beating down on Bradford Beach. Try, instead, in a parking garage. This is not just any parking garage, of course. This is the parking garage designed by Santiago Calatrava. It forms the lowest level of the addition the Spanish architect designed for the Milwaukee Art Museum. And it's just about finished: curving ceilings, dramatic arch supports, decorative walls and all. That means the crew of 100 C.G. Schmidt Inc. workers, 75 of them cement specialists, will begin to show their stuff to the rest of Milwaukee. In the next two or three weeks, they will emerge from the big hole in the ground that has been their job site and begin building the next level, this one above the surface. "I'm in awe of the complication of trying to put all those beautiful pieces together, those wonderful shapes and the arches," said Chris Goldsmith, executive director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. "It's fun to watch and it's even more fun to see it unfold, as we've only seen models and drawings," he said. "You know it's going to be cool, but when you see it you say, `Wow, this is really neat!'" The $50 million project is going to meet everyone's expectations, said David Kahler, a principal in the Milwaukee architectural firm Kahler Slater and the one responsible for taking Calatrava's complex designs and turning them into drawings to guide the work of carpenters and cement guys. "The construction crews have had the passion to do the project the correct way," Kahler said. And C.G. Schmidt certainly is passionate about the building. Steven Chamberlin, president of the Milwaukee construction firm, points with pride and enthusiasm to every difficulty his firm faced and how they were able to overcome that challenge.

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1999/03/29/story2.html?s=print

25/07/2011


Museum wing takes form - The Business Journal

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He explained how the complexity of the concrete arches calls for a mass of steel supports within each one, the more than 1-inch thick steel reinforcing bars weaving together as if the crew were creating a giant impenetrable basket. All that steel, combined with the curves of the arch, made it difficult to get the cement all the way to the bottom while retaining the perfectly smooth surface demanded by Calatrava. The crew accomplished its mission by setting up a massive vibrator to shake the cement into place. Even the most functional, vital, support components of the building are designed to be visually pleasing as well, which makes the simple process of assembling a form to pour a pier a project in its own right. On March 23, Jack Schramm, a C.G. Schmidt carpenter, was kneeling in front of his work, concentrating on a drawing. The pier form, rather like a cast the cement will be poured into, is studded with horizontal rows of beams that will give the concrete deeply inset stripes. Like every part of the museum addition, the corners, themselves at unique angles, are curved. How did the team manage to turn the beams around the corners? They had to create plaster casts, finishing off each row of beams by hand. "The fun part is figuring out what is going to work," said Schramm, looking up from his drawing. He smiled. "After that it becomes tedious like any other project." Schramm was put on the project specifically because he enjoys taking a creative approach to his work, Chamberlin said. Choosing the right people to work on various elements of the project was important because the museum construction is so challenging -- both because of its unique design and because of the demands of all the interested parties, from the museum to private donors to Calatrava himself. "You have top-notch people on this, from the building committee to the owner's rep to the architect, the engineers -- everybody is just top notch," Chamberlin said. "It's lot of people who see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity, and they want to see it work out." The project has been demanding from a communication viewpoint as well, Kahler said, as his architects must confer with the construction crew far more often than usual to make sure their drawings are something a worker can build from. "There's a complexity there that you don't normally find in a post-and-beam construction, which most people are accustomed to," Kahler said. "It's probably the most interesting project we've ever worked on." While the construction of the Burke Brise Soleil, the sun screen commonly referred to as the wings of the building, is still far off, a sample piece of the structure just arrived at the site. Made of a carbon fiber material commonly found on airplanes and racing bicycles, the sample must be inspected and approved by all parties. Considering it took three months from the start of construction before just one sample support arch was approved, it's hard to imagine the museum being completed on schedule.

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1999/03/29/story2.html?s=print

25/07/2011


Museum wing takes form - The Business Journal

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But those on the project said they planned for the complexity of the project, and it should open by the summer of 2000. So next spring, instead of support structures emerging from the ground, perhaps Milwaukee will see the first sign of the spreading of wings that will be the landmark Milwaukee Art Museum.

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1999/03/29/story2.html?s=print

25/07/2011


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