Tacoma Museum of Glass

Tacoma Museum of Glass

Designed by Arthur Erickson, the museum is dedicated to local artist Dale Chihuly, a famed glass artisan known for his vivid colors. A bridge connects the museum to downtown all the way across a freeway, displaying thousands of Dale Chihuly works along the way. Zahner produced the metalwork for the glass bridge, as well as the massive cone which can be identified throughout the downtown area.  The museum opened in 2002.

The project was a major Design Assist effort, meaning that the architects consulted early on with Zahner, and laid the groundwork for designing an intelligent system to produce the complex geometries efficiently.

The shape of the cone is made possible by the ZEPPS™ Process, a series of systems designed to make complex structures manageable. Like many of Frank Gehry's later collaborations with Zahner, Arthur Erickson chose to leave the understructure of the ZEPPS™ exposed, allowing viewers to enjoy the structure which makes the surface possible. Inside this cone, viewers can also watch live glass blowers producing hot glass pieces. The room reaches 90 feet and has two furnaces reaching temperatures of 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Each of the panels are 22ga stainless steel with an Angel Hair™ Finish. Each row of diamond panels has a different height and width, decreasing in size as it goes up.

The photo below was taken in 2011, nearly ten years after the completion of the project.

The left side of this picture, photographed during construction, shows the final surface of the exposed panels.  The right side of the photograph shows the the sky filtered through the unfinished understructure of the cone.  

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