Monument: Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Architect: Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/ SANAA
SANAA’s first built work in the United States is as much a unique solution for a home to an immense collection of over 5,000 pieces of glass art as it is a manifest to the 2010 Pritzker Prize Laureates’ vision which strives to create an ethereal, and somewhat paradoxically, natural architecture. Situated in a small picturesque park across the street from, and on axis to, the museum’s original Neoclassical building, the Glass Pavilion is a complimentary counterpoint to its surroundings.
The simple glass and steel box marks definite physical edges for the building and contains the display spaces as well as workshops within. Because of the rigidly compartmentalized floor plan, in which each programmatic function is contained by a glass “bubble,” layered transparencies and unexpected opacities of reflections and glare cast by the curved planes result- distorting these boundaries. Views of the park and adjacent galleries are omnipresent in all parts of the building allowing for closeness to nature in a highly organized, synthetic environment.
Mechanical systems and structure are carefully composed into the design. The cavity between the exterior glass and interior glass galleries is a buffer zone where cool and warm air is redistributed between the galleries and hotshops depending on the season. Subtle, white columns unobtrusively hold up the roof while the opaque galleries and auxiliary spaces, made of sheet steel, provide lateral bracing for the entire structure. The 32,000 ft2 of glass used in the project was made in Austria, curved and laminated in China, then delivered to the site.