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Remembering Milwaukee's four Calatravas that never were

Every week on  Urban Spelunking , Radio Milwaukee’s Nate Imig and OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo dig into the buildings and architectural features that help retain the city’s sense of history while it builds for the future.

When you think of Milwaukee's architecture, chances are your mind’s eye envisions the Milwaukee Art Museum and its iconic Brise Soleil, designed by world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava. 

Completed in 2001, it was Calatrava’s first work in the United States. The kinetic, winged design has become a symbol for Milwaukee in the 21 years since its opening and has grown so iconic that locals refer to it simply as “The Calatrava.”  

But, at least potentially, Milwaukee could have had four more “Calatravas.”

On this week’s episode of Urban Spelunking, we discuss the Calatravas that weren’t — the buildings, bridges and skywalks Calatrava had begun drawing but ultimately were abandoned, for different reasons in each case. Unfortunately, physical records in the forms of plans and sketches are scarce. But in one case — a planned athletic facility at MSOE — Bobby uncovered renderings and a 3D model. 

Listen to this episode to learn what we know about all four designs, and visit OnM i lwaukee for even more history. If you have any information to contribute, we’d love to hear from you.


Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee