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USGNN Original StoryMAD about Glass on Columbus Circle

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) opened the doors of its new quarters today for a press preview, and USGNN.com™ was there to see the highly anticipated re-design and its innovative use of glass.

The new home of MAD, on Columbus Circle, was originally built to house the art collection of A&P heir Huntington Hartford. It was marble-clad with small porthole-style windows. The new design, by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, features a façade of fritted glass and glazed terra-cotta tiles.

At the press preview, Holly Hotchner, MAD's director, said that part of the museum's mission is to relate arts and industry. This is reflected in the re-design through the artistic features of the façade and the craftsmanship that went into it being the industry part of the equation.

She said the architect had been given a directive that they didn't want "another muscular glass tower," but the use of materials that reflected the mission of the museum. "The ceramic frit was an extension of the museum's connection to ceramics," she said.

"The biggest idea of opening up this structure was to bring light and views," Hotchner continued. "It's the only building in New York City that has four exposed sides. You can walk all around it. It sits on its own island." Hotchner also credited those companies that had donated materials to the project, including Oldcastle Glass, which donated the fritted glass for the curtainwall.

Cloepfil followed Hotchner on the podium. He said the re-design has been a six-year process and part of the thinking was that the new design would keep the historical imprint of the building. He explained that the choice was made to have the building's "lollipops" still be seen through the transparent glass. (The building was referred to by architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable as a "die-cut Venetian palazzo on lollipops," referring to its street-level stanchions.) "It was a part of the decision for connecting the original building with the re-design," he said.

"The force of light was central to our design," Cloepfil said. "It has light on four sides and it was the most significant single factor in the re-design. We wanted to make the building be alive through the glaze in the ceramics, looking different as you walk around it and different at different times of the day and the year. Natural light is so essential to this collection," he added referring to the museum's collection.

"It was a task of concrete removal and designing to let diffused light into the building," he explained. "It was a case of editing the building to let the light in."

German company Seele, which has done the glass installations for some of the Apple stores, was the contract glazier for the project.

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