Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Calatrava, Shmalatrava

I have a mission: it’s to get Milwaukee locals [particularly WTMJ newscasters!] to stop referring to the Milwaukee Art Museum Quadracci Pavilion as “The Calatrava.” I am not exactly sure why it has become such a pet peeve of mine, but it has. We have a beautiful, world-renowned landmark and broadcasting professionals often refer to it in a manner befitting a simpleton. And I might forgive if it were called that by the general public, but the media?! They should know better plus they continuously reinforce the use of this hokey colloquialism!

The reason this graceful addition to the museum even exists is due to the generosity of the Quadracci family (among many others). It’s an insult to the donors if it’s not called by its proper name. This is especially true over the long term. Here’s a good example: we refer to The Bradley Center by its proper name: The Bradley Center a building whose funds were donated as a gift to the State of Wisconsin by philanthropists Jane and Lloyd Pettit in memory of Jane's late father, Harry Lynde Bradley of the Allen-Bradley company. Mr. Bradley is a very important person in Milwaukee’s history and I can’t say the name of the building without a quick mental nod to the man. We do not refer to it as “The HOK Sport” - the building’s architectural firm. Posterity should remember our beautiful art museum as an important gift to Milwaukee by a generous and culturally contributory family.

Next, referring to the building as “The Calatrava” is ambiguous. Calatrava is the last name (or middle) of the world-renowned architect: Santiago Calatrava Valls. If you perform a Google image search for "The Calatrava" ( you will see a few pictures of the Milwaukee Art Museum, but more importantly, you will see other magnificent works of his from around the globe. Now perform an image search for "The Quadracci Pavilion" ( and what do you see? That's right Milwaukee's one and only!

The exception to calling a structure by the architect’s name seems to be limited to fair and amusement park attractions: The “Eiffel” Tower or The “Ferris” Wheel. Until I can slide down the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Brise Soliel, we should proudly refer to our city’s architectural centerpiece as the Quadracci Pavilion. If you’d like to refer to it as the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum, I’d be okay with that too.

With a little luck, we will all start referring to our city’s masterpiece with language that shows that our museum is not the only thing that’s world-class about Milwaukee, but so are its citizens.
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1 comment:

  1. Fully in support of this...which stations do we need to bombard with messages?