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Last Friday at noon, the wing-shaped brise-soleil that soars atop architect Santiago Calatrava's pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum closed and opened again.
The art was not well served on the brilliantly sunny public opening day by Mr. Piano's elaborate system of sensor-activated window shades and artificial illumination, nor by his brise-soleil canopy.
Alexander Tzonis compares the building's 217-foot-wide mechanized brise-soleil (or sunscreen) to "the wings of a great seagull."
Along with acting as a kind of brise-soleil, or sunshade, the veil also has a key structural role to play, bearing the roof load and making possible the column-free gallery space on the top floor.
The truth is that the aluminum rectangles and squares of the brise-soleil (pronounced BREEZ soh-LEY, it is French for "breaks the sun") were designed to shade the windows at 157 Poplar.
Floorplates and brise-soleil structures hang above the walkways and keep direct sunlight off workspaces.