20,000sqm site area with a neighboring classical Museum of Modern Art main building is what the architects had to work with, creating the new pavilion. Because of its location, in a park at the southern end of a historical Victorian-style housing district, it was necessary to consider both: the preservation of the dense growth of 150-year old trees in the park and the surrounding historical neighborhood. Another major thing to influence the design probably was Toledo´s history, closely linked to glass-manufacturing, since Edward Libbey, owner of the Libbey Glass Company, founded the Toledo Museum of Art in 1901.
Nowadays, the museum contains a vast collection of glass art works and glass-making studious. That results in a challenging necessity to simultaneously maintain different microclimates within one unitary space. This appears to be one of the most amazing, though not visible from the first glance, design features of the building design to me. Visually, there are almost no separations between the exhibition spaces and the studios, while they contain different ventilated insulation cavities.
At night, the glow of the furnaces, kept at a constant 2,400 C degrees, can be seen from a nearby road. To get this feeling of a fluid obstacle-free continuity between the interior and exterior, technical spaces, such as insulated sandblasting workshops, offices and mechanical rooms – as well as the loading dock for the exhibition spaces – were placed in an underground level, whereas services such as plumbing and wiring were set into the thickness of the floorplate. The glass walls do not simply make up an envelope: they function according to a principle similar to the double-glazing, with an 80-centimetre thermally regulated buffer zone to counteract solar gain, conductive heat transfer and condensation, and recycling the heat generated by glass ovens to heat the cavity in the winter.
Leaving alone the technical use, the curvature of the walls smoothly guides visitors through the sequence of spaces, creating an astonishing game of reflexes, as well as a feeling of privacy, while remaining completely translucent. Using glass on this scale introduces a host of benefits and challenges. In most museums, sun control is essential, because ultraviolet light quickly fades paintings and fabrics. But when exhibited artworks are made of glass, the rules change. However there are still opaque exhibition spaces for particularly light-sensitive works, most of them are plainly open to an eye of every museum-goer. A slightly reflective Verosol curtain inside the exterior wall contains aluminum particles that reflect heat, light and UV light out of the building. Considering the main features of glass, there was a high risk of creating a too strong game of reflections, and the last thing you need in the glass museum full of glass ,(my apologies for the pun, it is stylistically necessary!), is a smoke and mirrors game. For the reason, SANAA team used an ultra-clear low-iron glass and studied the obtained effects on the daylight, to avoid brightly-blinding dazzling reflections. The final building´s curvatures filter the view, making it clear in one cases and reflectant in others.