The Glass Pavilion, an annex across the street from the Toledo Museum of Art, contains an extensive glass art collection, temporary exhibition galleries and glass making facilities.
Because of its location, in a park at the southernmost end of a
historical Victorian-style housing district, It was necessary to
consider both the preservation of the dense growth of 150-year old
trees in the park and the surrounding historical neighborhood in
conceiving the design.
SANAA designed the museum as a low, single-story pavilion with a series of courtyards open the sky, so that visitors, when inside the building, still feel they are walking under the trees. Bringing the surrounding park into the building, not only visually but also as an experience, adds to the complexity of the floor plan. The curved glass walls, separating the spaces in the building, give visitors visual contact with the outside, the glass making activities, and the art, at all times.
One of the things we wanted to achieve with this project was to create an intimate relationship between the inside and the outside, giving visitors the feeling of walking under the trees...feeling the green atmosphere of the garden./SANAA
The visionary programmatic requirement of combining the two somewhat contradictory programs of the "rough" glass making studio and the "refined" museum galleries, showing them both equally and concurrently, was the catalyst for the design.
The approximate 32.000 square feet of glass originates from a batch of float glass in Austria that, prior to being shipped to the site in Toledo, was curved and laminated in southern China. Thin solid steel columns and the use of 3/4" solid plate steel wall for lateral bracing create the lightness of structure to enhance the sense of clarity.
The spaces, each containing a different function, are arranged and shaped to separate gently, but also connect. The "in between" spaces, a result of the independent shapes, function as a dynamic buffer, sometimes emphasizing closeness, something strengthening the distance.
The shape of the walls guide visitors in different directions,
creating unique experiences throughout the sequence of
The mechanical system uses the cavity space as a temperature buffer, reusing the cooled air of the galleries to cool the hot shops, and recycling the heat generated by glass ovens to heat the cavity in the winter through coils embedded in the topping slab. Even the curtains in the cavity fulfil a key role in the mechanical system.
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa took their entire Tokyo office to see the first completed SANAA building in the US.
Facts about Glass Pavilion
Last updated: December 19, 2013
Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA