A Warmer Type of Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM), located right on Lake Michigan, boasts a collection of nearly 20,000 works—no small holdings. The facility became even more impressive recently with the opening of a 140,000 sq. ft. expansion. Designed by Spanish-born A/E and sculptor Santiago Calatrava, the expansion includes the Quadracci Pavilion, a 90-ft.

07/01/2003


The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM), located right on Lake Michigan, boasts a collection of nearly 20,000 works—no small holdings. The facility became even more impressive recently with the opening of a 140,000 sq. ft. expansion.

Designed by Spanish-born A/E and sculptor Santiago Calatrava, the expansion includes the Quadracci Pavilion, a 90-ft.-high glass-walled reception hall. The structure, comprised of two large symmetrical glass-encased corridors, is enclosed by the "Burke Brise Soleil," a sunscreen that can be raised or lowered, creating a moving, external sculpture.

During initial planning, the building's design and choice of materials presented the architect and builder with a major challenge—how to keep museum guests warm. Considering Wisconsin's long, cold winters, as well as the museum's waterfront location, cold exposure was inevitable. The structure would ultimately allow hot air to rise toward the glass ceiling, thereby overshooting the level at which museum-goers could take advantage of the heat. Additionally, the external, cold temperatures would permeate the windows.

The architect knew that forced air would result in dry heat above visitors' heads, thus keeping their feet cold. Instead, he recommended radiant floor heating (RFH), which distributes heat efficiently from the floor up. It also eliminates wasted energy by keeping heat from pushing against cold windows, and as such, realizes significant cost savings.

Rundle-Spence Manufacturing Company, a full-service plumbing, heating and industrial supply distributor and fabrication shop, was chosen to create the system. Approximately 25,000 ft. of 1/2-in. cross-linked polyethylene barrier piping was laid out in a pattern resembling a figure-8—referred to as a counter-flow spiral design—and was installed with an appropriate fitting system.

"Our decision to use [the fitting system] was based upon the need for worry-free connections," says Ed Sharpe, heating, design and engineering sales manager at Rundle-Spence. "The fitting system also sold the job due to its ease of installation. In the case of the museum structure, the locations of the fittings are difficult to access, so the installers wanted to make each connection only once. The piping normally relaxes within 24 hours and would require retightening. By not having to retighten the fittings, valuable time and money were saved."

The tubing's installation was made easier with a pipe uncoiler, an application capable of dispensing the pipe without twists or kinks. The uncoiler rides on pneumatic tires and therefore eliminates the strenuous task of lifting and moving it. "The tires allow for easy transport around a job site," Sharpe said.

In addition, staples were installed with a foam stapler. According to the tubing manufacturer, this method saved an enormous amount of time because of its speed. Specifically, installers could use the foam stapler while standing, not bending, as with other fasteners.





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