Zimmerman’s Milwaukee Public Museum Conceptual Design | Museum in the Park

Design Approaches to Museum Architecture

Zimmerman Architectural Studios – MPM Design

Museum architecture is the social product of a city & society. It is related to the history of a city & should fit into the existing urban fabrics. Museum architecture expresses a level of “monumentality” as part of its public function or social mission. This “monumental value” can be achieved through its symbolic expression of a communal building, a social gathering place, an educational resource, or a research center. Its architectural form serves as its own architectural characters.

Museum architecture’s basic function is to “serve” the artwork it surrounds. It plays a supportive role to “house” other works of art, rather than overpower the art with artistic aspirations of its own. Its interior design, room layout, & architectural form with historical associations should be designed with careful “neutrality.” “Neutrality” seems to satisfy what museum professionals expect of exhibition spaces. In other words, a museum should serve as a “laboratory” for visitors’ sensual perception & critical thinking. Kimbell Art Museum designed by Louis I. Kahn (1972) is a great example of this design approach.

Contemporary architects tend to have the motivation to establish the primacy of architecture over art. What really matters is not the art inside the museum, but the museum architecture itself. The exhibited artwork is thus considered as second-best or as decoration for architecture. This design approach to museum architecture considers a museum as a “public dormitory, entertainment center, or cultural shopping mall.”

Museum architecture has three components, namely exhibited spaces, administration spaces, & catchment spaces (reception, lobby, restaurant, cafeteria, library, gift shop, computer rooms, etc.). In the 19th century, the exhibited space occupied 90% of the museum spaces, while it only occupied 34% of the museums built in the past 55 years.

Too many museum buildings gave cities a new face & life, but little innovation/progress has occurred in the exhibition rooms, the very rooms for which the museum is built in the first place. A museum should present works of art in an environment where Space, Light, & “Emotional” Condition are ideal.

Which design approach do we take? Do we consider museum as (1) sculptural architecture (Guggenheim Museum-Bilbao, Frank Gehry, 1997), (2) the open museum (Center Pompidou, Renzo Piano, 1977; Guggenheim Museum-New York, Frank Wright, 1959), (3) a converted monument (Grand Louvre, I.M. Pei, 1989), or (4) museum with traditional manifesto (State Gallery of Stuttgart, James Stiring, 1984; J Paul Getty Museum, Richard Meier, 1997)?

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Milwaukee’s Coolest Office 2018


Our office… Our Design!

What’s better than to start your day in a calming “Urban Chapel”. Residing in the Menomonee Valley and bordering the Near West Side neighborhood, 120 architects and engineers – and all who join us here – contribute to the renewal of critical urban neighborhoods crucial to the continued revitalization of the region.

The Zimmerman culture fed the overall workplace design approach at its inception and the Zimmerman workspace itself continues to contribute significantly to maintaining that culture.  Talent that fits is attracted by the office space and its design contributes to maintaining the very unique soul of the organization.  Serious space co-mingles with playful space – such as the basketball hoop in the Gallery – both important to the Zimmerman culture.

The Milwaukee Business Journal has recognized us as Milwaukee’s Coolest Office for 2018! and featured on WTMJ TV!
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Career Opportunity – Project Architect: Healthcare Studio


Career Opportunity

Zimmerman Architectural Studios is one of the oldest and most successful architectural firms in Wisconsin.  Founded in 1906, the Firm continues to seek opportunities to further its commitment to enhancing the human environment with inspired, creative, and rational design, respecting the past while revealing the potential of the future.

With our next generation of leadership and management on the rise, we are embracing a readiness to learn from and appreciate the talents of others while shaping and creating a thriving environment.

We have a wonderful opportunity for empowered architectural talent to join our team.  As a Project Architect  with our Healthcare Studio, you will be involved in the development of creative, innovative, and aesthetically pleasing solutions in response to our client’s needs.


Mastery of drafting/design software and technique to ensure that the design intent is achieved.

Lead the technical production team and work closely with Project Manager.

Manage the construction administration efforts of your projects.

Responsible for the completeness and accuracy of construction drawings.

Accountable for the maintenance of production schedules.

Develop technical solutions in response to design and code requirements, and assure that design solutions have technical integrity.

Coordinate the work of consultants.

Participate in project pursuits, interviews and varied business development activities including RFQs and RFP submissions.

Essential Skills and Experience:

Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture with 8-10 years’ of experience in the design field.

Architectural registration preferred.

Mastery of AutoCAD, Revit and Microsoft Office Suite.

Proficiency in SketchUp, Photoshop and other design/rendering software packages is desired.

Working knowledge of building codes, including healthcare codes and guidelines.

Actively participate with teams of professionals – architects, designers, and engineers who possess a variety of personalities and skills sets.

Exceptional interpersonal skills and presentation skills; able to communicate clearly with team members and clients.

Demonstrated ability to oversee and be responsible for project delivery which may be multiple, large or complex in scope.

We invite you to join Milwaukee’s Coolest Office!  We provide a comprehensive benefits program which reflects our healthy attitude towards a positive work/life balance, along with an energetic culture and incredible work environment.   Candidates should submit their resume and compensation requirements to traci.mortensen@zastudios.com .  Visit our website at www.zastudios.com


We are an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.

Traci A. Mortensen

Director of Human Resources



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Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Inc.

Phone: 414-476-9500

Email: info@zastudios.com

2122 W. Mt. Vernon Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233