12.23.2009

Milwaukee Stands Up























I have to agree with this assessment by Shepherd Express about the revitalization of Milwaukee in the past decade, especially the anchor development, the iconic addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum:

Officially, its name is the Quadracci Pavilion. But Milwaukeeans simply—and proudly—refer to it as “the Calatrava.”

It’s hard to imagine Milwaukee’s shoreline without the graceful white wings, lake-reflecting windows and grand gardens of Santiago Calatrava’s design. But it didn’t exist a mere decade ago. After years of planning, the addition was opened to the public in 2001 and has since become the symbol of the city.

Not only has the Calatrava beckoned and awed Milwaukee Art Museum visitors, but it’s also had a huge influence on other structures, like the neighboring Discovery World and the Sixth Street bridge. More importantly, it’s raised Milwaukee’s spirits. If we can host world-class architecture, then surely we rank with other great American cities that may be bigger or wealthier or warmer. The Calatrava just may be the thing to help Milwaukee shake off its low self-esteem, stand up a little straighter, and demand more respect and attention from its peers.

Milwaukee is back in play, so to speak.  I think the city's reputation nationwide has improved significantly in the course of the decade.  I hope the city retains as much of its amazing cream city industrial heritage as it can even as it reinvents itself - the Historic Third Ward and the Menominee Valley are good examples of how re-use can retain identity.  Revitalizing the Pabst brewery acropolis, too, was a great move.