West Bend, Wisconsin
Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers
Owner: Museum of Wisconsin Art
Contractor: M.A. Mortenson
The new museum, located along the Milwaukee River across from West Bend’s historic downtown, houses the collection, preservation and exhibition of artworks by artists who have lived and worked in Wisconsin. The unique triangular building, clad in a variegated skin of fiber cement panels in different shades of white with glass apertures, not only fits precisely into its redevelopment site, but also fits the program needs of the museum by providing a range of different sized galleries. The acute north tip of the building is cut away to reveal a monumental stairway and create a dynamic glass wedge that forms an iconic element for the museum. In the southwest corner, a tall two-story opening provides an entrance into the atrium as well as views of downtown and down the length of the river. A curving stairway provides access to the galleries on the second floor. All the galleries have 16-foot tall ceilings, with tall freestanding wall planes to create a series of galleries and provide mechanical services for this space. The first floor contains space for educational programs, lectures, curatorial services and administrative support. The interior is designed with minimal white surfaces and doors, sidelights, railings and clerestories of transparent frameless glass.
Jury Comment: “This is a beautiful project that was well executed with a limited budget. The architect was really given a challenge – and the solution is very successful in the simplicity of the plan and the form as well as the selection of materials. The architect was smart to let the site talk and tell them what to do. It all works. The site is magical; and the community deserves a lot of credit for selecting it for the new museum. The materials and palette are refreshingly clean and a wonderful backdrop for the artwork. The project is diabolically simple.”
Photos: Darris Lee Harris Photography