Michener Museum gets glass walls

The Michener Art Museum’s Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion, scheduled to open 1 May 2012, is a 2,700-sq.ft. addition designed by architects KieranTimberlake, and is an elegant, all-glass structure that extends into the Patricia Pfundt Sculpture Garden.

The Michener Art Museum’s Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion, scheduled to open 1 May 2012, is a 2,700-sq.ft. addition designed by architects KieranTimberlake, and will provide a premier indoor and outdoor space for large public programmes ranging from jazz nights to lectures and private events. It will allow multiple museum programmes to function simultaneously within an elegant, all-glass structure that extends into the Patricia Pfundt Sculpture Garden, in conversation with the 19th century stone walls of the former jailhouse.
“The glass walls used in the Putman Event Pavilion will be among the largest self-supporting insulated glass units worldwide, and potentially the largest in the United States,” says Michener Art Museum Director/CEO Bruce Katsiff. “We expect museums to build architectural wonders and this project will not disappoint our visitors. The Putman Pavilion will help the Michener fulfil its mission by attracting new audiences and generating the funds to continue our service to the region.”
The glass, supplied by Roschmann Group in Gersthofen, Germany, takes three to four months to manufacture, and each panel consists of five layers of glass, is 5-foot-7 inches by 23-feet-6 inches and weighs approximately 3,350 pounds.
A highly specialized, custom-made suction device is used to lift the glass into place.
Because there are very few devices in the world large enough to lift the panels, Roschmann Group shipped one from Germany that weighs approximately 900 pounds, with 26 suction cups providing a lifting capacity of 4,400 pounds.
“This is a landmark project,” says General Contractor Gustavo Perea, president of Collegeville, Pennsylvania-based Adams-Bickel. “The size and magnitude and scope of the structural glass wall has never been done anywhere in the world, to the best of our knowledge. It will be a magnificent, spectacular space.”
“The size of the glass has presented logistical challenges, getting the large crane into a small site,” says Joe Clabbers, president, National Glass and Metal Co., based in Horsham, Pa. “Everything has to be orchestrated perfectly, and we walked through the steps on paper first.”
The pressure in the section cups was monitored from a remote control device, and allowed for rotation of the glass into a vertical position. The project was able to proceed during rain, as long as the suction cups were kept dry, but wind would have postponed the job.
Annual support for the Michener Art Museum is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Bucks County Commissioners and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.