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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Career Opportunity – Healthcare Planner


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 Healthcare Planner 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.


Understands and helps to develop the overall mission, vision and goals for the project.

Understands the differences and requirements for institutional, ambulatory and business occupancies.

Works with clients to understand their desired operational model, work flows, patient flows and critical adjacencies, and develops plans to support and/or improve that model.

Understands LEAN planning and process improvement concepts.

Develops space programs, accurately identifying square footage and spatial relationships.

Involved in developing creative, innovative and efficient solution in response to the client’s needs.

Helps determine the tools and methods to communicate the design intent to the client.

Participates in document production, in particular during the initial planning stages of a project and will often stay involved in document production throughout the course of the project.

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

Maintain and expand personal knowledge of the healthcare industry, medical planning and design skills through additional training, continuing education and other means.

Essential Skills and Experience:

Bachelor’s degree and 5+ years’ related medical planning experience on healthcare projects. Master of Architecture degree preferred.

EDAC, ASHE, and/or ACHA accreditations considered.

A strong understanding of Revit, AutoCAD, SketchUp and other design/rendering software packages.

Understands the relationships of various spaces and departments within healthcare facilities and how patients and staff flow within them.

Strong organization and design skills, with the ability to solve planning puzzles.

Strong listening skills and the ability to gain consensus within varied user groups.

Strong presentation, communication, team building and collaboration skills and has the ability to guide clients toward successful design solutions.

Well organized, able to balance multiple projects and deadlines.

Effectively communicates design intent to the internal team and the client.

Responds timely and appropriately to clients – both internal and external.

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.