Volume 20, Issue 6 - November/December 2006

From the Editor
Beauty Is as Beauty Does
by Charles Cumpston

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, we all know. That’s easy to believe when people tell you how pretty you are and you’re popular. What if you’re not pretty and people shun you? In today’s world, that means a makeover.

Such was the situation in which the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design found itself at its new home on Manhattan’s Columbus Circle. Largely unloved since it was constructed in 1964 as the home for Huntington Hartford’s art collection, the structure has long set abandoned.

Now, it’s the newest jewel in the revitalized Columbus Circle architectural clique and like its shining neighbors the Time Warner Building, glass has been key to the makeover success.

Daylight can be very tricky in a museum. In some cases, no direct light is wanted because of the damage it might do to the artwork that is being displayed. But officials of the Museum of Arts and Design specified that light play a central role in the redesign. As architect Brad Cloepfil said at the structure’s press preview, “Natural light is so essential to this collection.”

Our article on this project focuses on the glass, of course; but, it also points out the collaborative partnership between the architectural team and the glass supplier. The new MAD is a very sophisticated building as far as its façade is concerned. Over 20 custom colors were selected for the frit lines and the architectural team actually ended up going to the paint lab of the glass supplier, Oldcastle Glass, and creating the color with its team.

This kind of teamwork shows up in the finished product. As MAD director Holy Hotchner said at the press preview, the quality of the workmanship in the redesign would reflect the museum’s emphasis on craftsmanship. 

The crucial role that glass played and the complexity of the glass product (the coatings, the application of the frit, etc.) make the new MAD building of particular interest to anyone who is involved in successful design

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