12:05 PM - 12:30 PM
18 September 2020

Concrete Walls, Live Glassblowing, and Ductwork: The Challenges of Designing Building Systems for the Corning Museum of Glass

Thomas Phifer and Partners’ stunning design for The Corning Museum of Glass Contemporary Art + Design Wing features a spacious natural light-filled gallery with more than 900 diffusing skylights and a series of slender concrete serpentine cavity walls that seamlessly divide the exhibit spaces and support the sophisticated daylight-filtering system integrated with structural roof beams. Adjacent to the gallery is an innovative renovation of the historic mid-century Steuben Glass factory ventilator building that contains one of the world’s largest facilities for glassblowing demonstrations and live glass design sessions. The 10,000-square foot theater features retractable banked seating, and a mezzanine balcony that offers 360-degree views of the hot glass show below. The team was challenged to design environmentally responsible, museum conservation building systems within two discreet, architecturally challenging environments that would prioritize the Museum’s goals, support the architectural vision, and heighten both the visitor and artist experience. The result is a series of seamlessly integrated building systems that put the architecture first and, in doing so, enhanced this striking home to artists who push the boundaries of what is possible in glass. Meeting the design challenges is testament to the paramount importance of team collaboration to successful integration of architectural engineering.


  • Michael Freliech, P.E., Altieri
  • Kristen Butts, P.E., LEED® AP, Altieri