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)?

Visit the full article and press release here:


Career Opportunity – Senior Architectural Designer


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 unbridled design talent to join our team.  As a Senior Architectural Designer, reporting to a Studio Director, you will be responsible for overseeing the design of a wide range of projects from conception through completion.  You will direct and supervise designers and other team members as needed for varied projects.


Establish the program and conceptual design direction in response to the project requirements and client’s goals and objectives; exceeding expectations and complying with financial and scheduling constraints.

Coordinate and lead the design process with a project team (Project Manager, Project Architect, Technical team and consultants) to develop architectural solutions from the conceptual level through construction documentation and construction administration.

Develop creative, beautiful, and functional design solutions utilizing 2D/3D software.

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

Provide expert technical knowledge and leadership to projects and develop effective relationships with new and existing clients.

Adept in leading and mentoring design staff and improving various quality improvement processes.

Essential Skills and Experience:

15+ years of experience, which includes leading design projects with various degrees of complexity.

Bachelor’s degree, Master’s preferred.

License to practice Architecture desired.

Well versed in a variety of building types:

corporate, industrial, recreational, multi-family, campus master planning

Proficient with Revit, SketchUp and other design/rendering software packages such as AutoCAD, Enscape, or Lumion as well as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.

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

Possess strong communication, listening, and presentation skills.

This position is empowered to make a difference and grow key market sectors; therefore having an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to develop and cultivate work is essential.

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

Pettit National Ice Center Turns 25

The Pettit National Ice Center, designed by Zimmerman’s stadium and arena team, also known as Venture Architects, recently turned 25 and is preparing to host the US Olympic Speedskating Trials.

The unique building is one of two of its kind in the US.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published this excellent article that we are happy to share.