Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

-OH-Toledo Area

Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion (2006)

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA) , Architects

2445 Monroe Street, Toledo OH 43620

Map and Aerial View

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Visited May 31, 2011

Designed by the Pritzker Prize winning architctural duo Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (who’s firm is known as SANAA), this glass pavilion fittingly houses the Museum’s world renowned glass collection.

What initially appears as a “simple” glass box, square in plan with curved corners, is actually a very skillful study in minimalist aesthetics with a complex mechanical and structural design. The facade is a continuous  glass enclosure from the edge of the floor platform to the edge of the ceiling plane. The glazing is inset into the floor and ceiling plane with butt jointed side connections, providing a frameless and  nearly invisible joint instalation.

Contained within this glass box is a series of glass rooms, also with curved corners, arranged within the enclosure so that the room’s perimeter comes only as close as a couple feet of the exterior glazing.

Structurally there are very few slender columns and solid wall segments which emphasises the transparent glass box effect. The roof plane appears as a fairly slender white plane with only recessed lighting and recessed curtain tracks interrupting the ceiling. The mechanical system is mysteriously invisible. There are no rooftop units visible, and therefore no rooftop screens needed to “hide” them. On the interior the supply and return grilles are continuous slot diffusers in the floor, or a couple simple white rectangular boxes with circular diffusers. All of the HVAC system is delivered from a remote building and runs invisibly underground to the pavillion. Therefore the pristine glass pavilion does not have any of the ugly rooftop units or grilles/vents or operable windows in the facade.

Although I appreciate (and was amazed at) all of the obvious lengths they went through to accomplish this minimalist facade, standing back and looking at the Pavilion I thought it almost looks a little too “Simple”.

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Center for the Visual Arts (1992)

Frank Gehry, Architect

Connected to the East End of the Toledo Museum of Art,

2445 Monroe Street, Toledo, OH 43620

Map and Aerial View

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Visited May 31, 2011

The University of Toledo Center for the Visual Arts is an early Frank Gehry design. The composition is an arrangement of geometric solid forms, clusted and stacked. Here Gehry is using lead covered copper panels to enclose volumes which define the space. Compare this to Gehry’s later designs where the metal panels are polished stainless steel and the surfaces are more flamboyantly curved and sculpted, flaring in and out in a free form composition.

The Center for the Visual Arts building is attached to the Toledo Museum of Art with a one story link. On the Monroe Street side the Center and Museum are seperated/screened by dense plantings and an earth berm, allowing the Center visually stands alone from the Museum as you drive west on Monroe Street.

On the South side of the Center, adjacent to the entry is a Japanese inspired rock garden. It includes with several large rocks carefully placed in a raked white gravel field. This garden is enclosed by an odd green tinted glass tall fence. I am curious to find out the story behind this garden and it’s fence. It just seems, well…odd.

I personally like the weathered lead panels and the volumetric composition of the North facade of the Center better than the glare, distortion and spectacle of some of Gehry’s later works.

Also visit the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion (2006) across the street by another Pritzker Prize winning architectural firm SANAA from Japan.