A new exhibition pavilion and garden on 1.5 acres beneath Seattle’s Space Needle brings together the largest collection of artist Dale Chihuly’s glass installations and sculptures in the world. Owen Richards Architects repurposed a warehouse, previously housing the much-beloved but aging Fun Forest arcade, into a 12,000-square-foot hall with eight galleries, a theater, cafe, and bookstore. Persian Ceiling, a 36-by-40 foot backlit glass “mural” of marine-inspired sculptures, hangs above one gallery space. In darkened rooms, Chihuly’s pieces glow brightly under spotlights, while shadow box tables and spruce plank walls in the cafe are lined with Chihuly’s eclectic personal collections, ranging from bottle openers to vintage radios.
The architectural highlight of the $20 million privately funded complex is the 4,500-square-foot glass house, an addition inspired by historical conservatories like the Crystal Palace erected for London’s Great Exhibition of 1851. Forty-foot-high white metal beams support five connected red and yellow chandeliers that span 100 feet and are made from more than 1,000 pieces of glass. The adjacent plaza and surrounding garden, designed by AHBL, weave whimsical, Dr. Seuss–like floral sculptures amid dogwoods, camellias, black mondo grass, and a green wall on the east facade.