Pentagram revs up Harley-Davidson museum

Pentagram Design is set to unveil its designs for an iconic $75m (£38m) Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, US.

The legendary motorcycle brand is planning to open the venue to celebrate its 105th birthday this year. As well as 12 000m2 of museum space, it will house a retail space and annexe, set inside a downtownstyle ‘street grid’ enabling bikers to ride right in to and around the grounds.

The industrial-styled site will occupy three adjacent buildings set behind four steel towers. Hand-cut brick walls, emblazoned with the Harley-Davidson logotype, stand 25m high.

Museum director Stacy Schiesl says, ‘We’re designing the museum with our riders in mind, creating a motorcycle crossroads formed by our buildings. It’s a Harley-Davidson neighbourhood outside with streets 18m wide.’

Pentagram was appointed as design architect for the project. Pentagram partner James Biber, based in Pentagram’s New York office, is the consultancy’s lead partner, working with fellow partner Michael Bierut, who is handling graphics, says Schiesl.

The consultancy is working alongside Milwaukee-based Hamel, Green and Abrahamson, the accredited architect of record for the scheme. Minneapolis-based Osland and Associates is overseeing landscape architecture.

Building work has been ongoing since June 2006, and Harley-Davidson has set the opening date for July this year. The company is expecting the museum to attract 350 000 visitors a year.

Design materials such as glass and steel will be used to mark the company’s industrial heritage. More than 1200 tons of galvanized beams will make up the building’s framework.

Harley-Davidson began life in 1901 with a bike design sketched by William S Harley. It was built with Arthur Davidson two years later, and the bar-and-shield logo designed in 1910. From 1933, ‘eagle’ graphics began appearing on the bikes, but the names of the graphic designers have long since been lost.

• The museum will be situated in downtown Milwaukee, between Sixth and Canal Streets
• Housed at an 8 ha former industrial site, it covers 12 000m2
• It will house more than 450 vehicle designs
• It includes event space, a restaurant and café, and a gift store
• The museum will also become the new home of the Harley-Davidson company archives

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