Page D1.1 . 09 October 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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Museum of Glass by Arthur Erickson

by Anna C. Noll

Amid a scruffy sprawl of warehouses and marinas, on a former brownfield site in Tacoma, Washington, sits the sparkling new Museum of Glass. Subtitled the International Center for Contemporary Art, this is the most recent hope for reviving Tacoma's lackluster downtown core.

The 75,000-square-foot (7000-square-meter), $63 million project was designed by the preeminent Canadian architect Arthur Erickson in collaboration with Nick Milkovich Architects Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Thomas Cook Reed Reinvald, of Tacoma.

The most striking feature of the new Museum of Glass is, at its southern end, a 90-foot (27-meter) cone, tilted 17 degrees, covered in diamond-shaped stainless steel plates. The cone houses the museum's state-of-the-art "Hot Shop Amphitheater" where glassmaking is a spectator sport. According to Erickson, the conical shape is a nod to the former sawdust burners of the region's lumber mills.

The building, Erickson's first major art museum in the United States, opened to the public in July, 2002. It is sited on Dock Street, between newly constructed medium-rise condominiums of rather mundane design and Albers Mill, a decrepit brick structure from 1904 that formerly housed a grain mill and that is currently awaiting mixed residential/ commercial redevelopment.   >>>

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The Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson.
Photo: Russell Johnson/ Courtesy of the Museum of Glass

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The entrance-level plaza at night.
Photo: Russell Johnson/ Courtesy of the Museum of Glass


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