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Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee, WI

The new wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum—designed by acclaimed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava—is a work of art in its own right. The $100 million Quadracci Pavilion is Calatrava’s first building in the United States. When Corbin Design was called in to design signage that would integrate the pavilion with the rest of the museum, the goal was to develop an effective exterior and interior wayfinding system that did not intrude on the soaring architecture.

Working closely with the architect, Corbin Design achieved that goal through the use of subtle white, metal and glass signs that match materials used in the architecture itself. Outside the museum, white aluminum entry signs were mounted atop white granite bases, and stainless steel plaques were engraved with the names of major donors.

Inside, freestanding directional signage uses paper inserts sandwiched between sheets of glass. The donor wall holds engraved glass squares that are painted white and then blue on the back, and then mounted an inch off the wall. Ambient light hitting the back of the squares casts a subtle blue blush on the wall. A similar technique is used for other wall-mounted signs.