Glass to Play a Significant Part in the Design of New CMOG Wing

The Corning Museum of Glass unveiled the preliminary design for an expansion that will create a new North Wing, featuring light-filled galleries for its collection of contemporary works in glass, as well as one of the world’s largest facilities for glassblowing demonstrations and live glass design sessions. Probably no surprise, glass will play a significant role in the new wing, designed by architect Thomas Phifer and Partners. The 100,000-square-foot, $64 million project—fully funded before groundbreaking by major benefactor Corning Inc.—is scheduled for completion in 2014.

Phifer’s design creates 26,000 square feet of gallery space specifically engineered to showcase the museum’s growing collections of large-scale contemporary works of art and design in glass. The new gallery building will have access to natural daylighting through diffusing roof skylights, which will provide the majority of the light required to view art.

“Contemporary glass loves light, especially natural light, and space,” says Tina Oldknow, the museum’s curator of modern glass. “The new daylighting system represents a dramatic change in how contemporary works in glass are viewed, and the museum’s monumental sculptures will have an exhibition space appropriate to their size. This is the first large-scale presentation of contemporary glass that takes advantage of natural light.”

The contemporary gallery façade will be made of white aluminum, with perpendicular blades of ultra-thin specialty glass. According to information from the museum, the building envelope will be carefully tuned to protect the art and contribute to energy performance. The windows and skylights will be double-glazed insulating glass units and the glass will feature a low-E coating as well as UV-filtering coatings to help protect the art.

A 150-foot-long window wall on the façade of the contemporary gallery building will provide views out to the campus green and into the galleries, unifying the indoor and outdoor experience. The glassmaking space will open up to outdoor areas to allow for indoor/outdoor programs, and the transparent façades will animate the new campus green and existing museum courtyard with the glassmaking activity inside.

“For us, learning the way light and glass work together has been truly rewarding. Glass is performance art … from its fluidity to the way it scatters light in space. We are making spaces to put people in touch with the magic of glass,” says Phifer.