Museum Of Glass

by | 20. Jul 2012

Cultural | Project

Photo: Russell Johnson


The Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art is dedicated to presenting the medium of glass within the context of contemporary art in all media.

Drawing on the primary elements – fire, water, earth and sky – the architecture of the Museum flows effortlessly into the landscape.

These elements appear throughout the building’s architecture in features such as the infinity edged reflecting pools on the stepped terraces and the sweeping concrete stairway that wraps the exterior of the cone.


The mission of the museum is to free the medium of glass from the boundaries of its craft origin, and frame it within the context of all contemporary art.
/Josi Callan, Director & Chief Executive Officer

Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace

In the foreground “Call of the Wild”  sculptures by Patrick Dougherty


Photo: arcspace  

On the roof “Incidence”  by Buster Simpson, a construction of angled clear glass panels installed in a reflecting pool on the roof, looks like a giant transparent saw against the sky.

Sheathed in sand-colored concrete and translucent glass, the building’s signature architectural feature is a tilted 91-foot cone wrapped in stainless steel that punctuates the skyline and serves as an immediately identifiable cultural landmark. Inspired by the wood burners of sawmills that once dotted the region, the shimmering cone symbolizes the city’s transformation from an industrial to a cultural center.


Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace

The horizontal line of the winged roof ties in with the horizon line of the landscape.

Visitors can enter the building from a parking area below the Museum or from the Museum’s expansive rooftop terrace, which is linked to the city’s historic downtown by the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. A sweeping concrete stairway spirals down the cone’s exterior to the Museum’s main entrance.


Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace

A series of tiered horizontal terraces ascend from an esplanade along the Thea Foss Waterway, providing the Museum with outdoor exhibition areas and visitors with a panoramic view of the city, Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range. Rimless reflecting pools on three terrace levels create the illusion of flowing water disappearing over the edges.


Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace

The 6,900 square feet Grand Hall, at the entrance to the Museum of Glass, provides direct access to galleries, theater, hot shop and museum store. The cafe is separates from the Hall by a glass wall.


Photo: arcspace



Photo: arcspace


The Hot Shop Amphitheater, housed in the 90 feet tall and 100 feet in diameter cone, is one of the Museum’s most striking features. With seating for 145 visitors, the Hot Shop Amphitheater includes a hot glass studio with furnaces and ample equipment for several artistic teams to blow and cast glass. It also contains a cold glass studio for completing hot glass and creating new cold glass artworks.


Drawing courtesy Arthur Erickson ArchitectsWest Elevation



Drawing courtesy Arthur Erickson ArchitectsEast Elevation



Drawing courtesy Arthur Erickson ArchitectsGrand Hall Level


Cone facts:
A total of 2,800 diamond-shaped stainless steel panels  panels, or shingles, cover the 18,200 square feet of cone exterior. Shingle surfaces have a fine matte finish, called “angel hair,” created by lightly scratching the stainless steel surface with a wire brush during the manufacturing process.

The cone has a diameter ranging from approximately 104 feet at the base to 15 feet at the top. It is tilted to the north 17 degrees and supported by 16 shop-fabricated columns that are made of tube steel with a 16-inch-square thickness. The columns weigh 105 pounds per linear foot and vary in length from 80 to 120 feet.

The columns are connected by horizontal steel supports called “purlins.” Each purlin is 10 inches square and weighs 41 pounds per linear foot. The purlins range in length from 24 feet at the cone’s base to two feet at its top. At the cone’s summit, a massive steel ring holds the columns together. The ring weighs 16 tons and is 24 feet in diameter. More than 6,500 bolts were used in the construction of the cone’s frame.


CITYTacoma, Washington
ARCHITECTWyn Bielaska Nick Milkovich Architects Inc.
Thomas Cook Reed Reinvald Architects PLLC