Corning Museum of Glass unveils new Phifer-designed expansion
The Corning Museum of Glass has unveiled plans for a $64m expansion, which, when completed, will be the largest space anywhere dedicated to the presentation of contemporary glass art. Designed by New York architect, Thomas Phifer and Partners, which also designed the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the project will create a new North Wing featuring light-filled galleries as well as one of the largest facilities for glassblowing demonstrations and live glass design sessions.
The fully funded project is being undertaken to take the pressure off the already successful museum, which receives 400,000 visitors each year, and to augment existing facilities. “Over the last decade, we’ve experienced tremendous growth: in our collections; in our increasingly diverse audiences; and in the breath and ambition of our public programs, especially those that allow visitors to experience the energy of artist and designers at work. This transformation responds to those demands”, said Karol Wight, executive director of the museum.
Phifer’s design creates 26,000 sq ft of light-filled gallery space that is scale appropriate to the works to be displayed there. “The new daylighting system represents a dramatic change in the how contemporary works in glass are viewed, and the Museum’s monumental sculptures will now have an exhibition space appropriate to their size,” said Tina Oldknow, the Museum’s curator of modern glass. The design also includes the renovation of the iconic ventilator building of the former Steuben Glass factory, which is adjacent to the Museum’s current building. This new glassmaking space will accommodate 500 people and feature a gallery-level balcony running around the perimeter of the venue that will provide 360-degree views of the glassmaking below.
The new North Wing will have an innovative façade of white aluminum and glass with perpendicular blades of ultra-thin specialty glass. These materials are juxtaposed with the black exterior of the restored ventilator building creating an interesting dialogue between the two structures. Stitching the campus together, which also includes buildings designed by Harrison & Abramovitz, Gunnar Birkerts, Smith-Miller + Hawkinson, and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, will be the charge of landscape architecture firm, Reed Hildebrand Associates (RHA). RHA is working with the Museum to design new outdoor gathering spaces for the public, including a 1-acre campus green that will provide views into the luminous new gallery and glassmaking spaces. The project is scheduled for completion in 2014.