Corning Museum of Glass Unveils Final Design of its North Wing Expansion

Corning Museum of Glass Unveils Final Design of its North Wing Expansion

May 30, 2013
Design Features Innovative Glass Architecture and Light-Filled Galleries

Corning, NY—The Corning Museum of Glass today unveiled the final design of its North Wing expansion, which is slated to open in late 2014.

Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, the addition will include a new 26,000-square-foot contemporary art gallery building, as well as a new 500-seat glassmaking demonstration venue in the renovated facility of the former Steuben Glass factory ventilator building, adjacent to the Museum.

The design of the contemporary art gallery is a square, minimalist white glass building containing soaring, daylight-filled galleries. The façade will be constructed with large, white glass panels that create a nearly seamless, softly reflective expanse. Inside, the gallery will feature a simple, white interior with massive curvilinear concrete walls. The building will be the largest space anywhere dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art in glass.

“The minimal exterior of the gallery building promises a tranquil and illuminating experience inside,” said Phifer. “Visitors enter a light-filled, glass vitrine to view and appreciate works of art in glass.”

A sophisticated light-filtering system will use diffusing roof skylights, providing the majority of the lighting required to view the art. The daylighting sets a new standard for how contemporary works in glass are displayed. A 150-foot-long window wall along the north side of the building will provide views of a new one-acre campus green, unifying the indoor and outdoor experience.

The luminous all-glass gallery building will be juxtaposed against the black metal exterior of the adjacent historic glass factory ventilator building that will contain the new venue for the Museum’s signature live glassmaking presentations. The space, which can be entered through the new contemporary gallery, will accommodate 500 people through retractable banked seating, and will feature a gallery-level balcony running around the perimeter of the venue that offers 360-degree views of the glassmaking below.

“The Corning Museum of Glass is the world’s leading art museum dedicated to the presentation, display, and interpretation of glass and glassmaking. The architecture of the Museum, since the first building in 1951, has illustrated innovative uses of glass in architecture,” said Karol Wight, executive director of The Corning Museum of Glass. “Thomas Phifer's design for the North Wing gallery marks a dramatic new chapter in the rich history of modern and contemporary glass architecture on our campus.”

The campus currently features a collection of buildings designed by Harrison & Abramowitz (1951), Gunnar Birkerts (1980), Smith-Miller + Hawkinson (2001), and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (2001).

The expansion will dramatically enhance the visitor experience for the Museum’s more than 400,000 annual domestic and international visitors. The $64 million project—fully funded before groundbreaking by major benefactor Corning Incorporated—will open to the public in 2014.

Other features of the expansion include:

  • The transformation by architects Smith-Miller + Hawkinson of a theater space originally designed by the firm in 1999, into an additional live glassmaking venue (July 2012)
  • A renovation of the Museum’s café, which opened in 2012, designed by HAIGH Architects in association with Hunt Engineers, Architects, Surveyors (April 2012)
  • Relocated and improved parking for bus groups (July 2012)
  • New education spaces (2014)
  • New office and storage spaces (2014)

About Thomas Phifer

Thomas Phifer approaches modernism from a humanistic standpoint, connecting the built environment to the natural world with a heightened sense of openness and community spirit that is based on a collaborative, interdisciplinary process. Since %%founding%% Thomas Phifer and Partners 1997, he has completed the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Raymond and the Susan Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and the %%Salt%% Point House, the Millbrook House and the Taghkanic House, all in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.

Work under construction includes the United States Federal Courthouse in %%Salt%% Lake City, Utah, an expansion of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and the prototype of a new street light fixture for New York City. The firm is also designing a new museum for the Glenstone Foundation in Potomac, Maryland, a Field House and Velodrome for Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, a Federal Office Building in San Juan, Puerto Rico and houses in Madison, Wisconsin and Dallas, Texas.

Phifer’s buildings have been repeatedly honored by the American Institute of Architects, including seven AIA National Honor Awards and twelve AIA New York Honor Awards. In 2011 the North Carolina Museum of Art won a National Honor Award from the AIA and in 2010 the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion also won a National Honor Award. The international competition-winning design for the City Lights light fixture for New York City won a Research and Development Award from Architect magazine in 2009, and in 2008 the %%Salt%% Point House won an American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum. His projects have been published and exhibited extensively in the United States and overseas.

In 2004 Phifer was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award given to an individual or firm, from the New York Chapter of the AIA. In 1995 he received the prestigious Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and in 2011 he was elected an Academician of the National Academy of Design. In 2013, Mr. Phifer received the Arts and Letters Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and is serving as a Peer for the General Services Administration. He received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1975 and his Master of Architecture in 1977, both from Clemson University.

Phifer lectures widely on his work and has served as a design instructor, lecturer and critic at numerous architecture schools. Most recently he held the Stevenson Chair at the University of Texas and has taught at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. A monograph on the work of Thomas Phifer and Partners was released in the fall of 2010 by Skira Rizzoli.

About The Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass is home to the world’s most important collection of glass, including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years. Live glassblowing demonstrations (offered at the Museum, on the road, and at sea on Celebrity Cruises) bring the material to life. Daily Make Your Own Glass experiences at the Museum enable visitors to create work in a state-of-the-art glassmaking studio. The campus in Corning includes a year-round glassmaking school, The Studio, and the Rakow Research Library, the world’s preeminent collection of materials on the art and history of glass. Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York State, the Museum is open daily, year-round. Kids and teens, 19 and under, receive free admission. www.cmog.org