SANAA in the Glass City

Known as “The Glass City,” my home town Toledo, Ohio will soon be home to the first US building completed by Tokyo architects SANAA. Set to open in early 2006, The Glass Pavilion will house the museum’s vast collection of art glass as well as the glassmaking studios for the associated University of Toledo College of Art. The Museum has studied daylight patterns to evaluate how light will enter the all-glass structure. A shading system will be erected to prevent interior spaces from overheating and to control light levels. I haven’ t yet seen any renderings of this feature. Everything that’s shown is pretty schematic, but I don’t think that this won’t be a repeat of Holl’s Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City.

The Glass Pavilion’s primary purpose is to provide an in-depth examination of the creative process by presenting the Museum’s glass collection within the context of all the visual arts. Within the Pavilion, artists and patrons will explore the creative process of glassmaking through the interpretation of the Museum’s collection and by emphasizing the relationship between the art created there and the masterpieces in the collection. Some museums focus on the history of glass, and a few others contextualize works in this media by integrating them within the history of art. The Glass Pavilion will be unique in featuring the close physical relationship between its glass collection, related works in other media, and its glassmaking facilities.

Corrugated plastic panels stand in for glass while the interior is finished.

Across the street from the Glass Pavilion sits the University building, designed by a pre-Bilbao Frank Gehry.

The new Museum sits in a wooded grove – but fear not – only dead trees were removed during construction. The glass in the mock up seems especially reflective, so seen from the outside, I’m looking forward to the effect created by ghosted images of trees overlaying the diluted images of the art and the visitors within.

A photo of a on-site full-scale mockup showing an exterior corner and rounded interior glass wall.

SANAA’s new pavilion sits only 1 block away from Toledo’s “Old West End” – an incredibly beautiful and historic (although somewhat run-down) residential district. Although I haven’t spent much time in The Glass City, I heard that there was some trouble from the residents of this area, who didn’t want such a *gasp* modern building near their stately manor. Somehow, the controversy was overcome and it looks like the outcome is going to be tremendous. I’ll keep you posted.

In other news, tomorrow, I will be officially welcome to return to New Orleans…at my own risk. No water, no gas, no power, no food, no leaving your zip code, and an enforced curfew between 6 pm and 8 am…sounds awesome. I forsee more state hopping in my future, and I’m still not really sure when I’ll be returning…