The Glenstone Museum will expand again with a Richard Serra-specific pavilion

Summer of Expansions

The Glenstone Museum will expand again with a Richard Serra-specific pavilion

Rendering of the boardwalk approach to the new building at Glenstone Museum. The new pavilion was designed in collaboration between Thomas Phifer and Richard Serra (The Boundary/Courtesy the Glenstone Museum)

The Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, is the latest in a string of museums to announce expansions this summer, today revealing plans to add a new pavilion to the nearly 300-acre grounds outside of Washington, D.C.

Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, who also handled the Glenstone’s $200 million Pavilions complex and visitors’ center that opened in 2018, the 4,000-square-foot building will house a single sculpture by American artist Richard Serra. Serra’s work, often consisting of abstract, self-supporting pieces of weathered steel, can already be found at two other locations on the Glenstone’s campus: The 2001 Sylvester, a spiraling sheet of steel resembling an enclosed room, sits outside of the galleries’ entrance, and the 223-foot-long spiral of steel that is Contour 290, which runs along the Woodland Trail.

Rendering of a new concrete pavilion at the glenstone museum
Approaching the new Richard Serra pavilion from the Woodland Trail (The Boundary/Courtesy the Glenstone Museum)

“Richard Serra’s works have been anchors in the collection since the beginning and Tom Phifer’s vision has come to define the new Glenstone since he designed the Pavilions,” said Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder of the Glenstone Museum, in a press release. “It’s deeply gratifying to work with Richard and Tom again, this time as collaborators, alongside our long-time landscape architect Adam Greenspan. We can’t wait to share this new building and installation with our visitors next year.”

The latest addition will mirror Phifer’s earlier work at the Pavilions while maintaining its own distinct identity. The conceit of the Pavilions was to let the work on display breathe; initially appearing to be 11 discrete precast concrete volumes, the complex is, in actuality, one building composed of 11 triple-height viewing rooms. Nine of those remain dedicated to showcasing a single piece of art illuminated by natural lighting, emphasizing what Wei Rales termed at the time as “slow art.”

Rendering of a concrete cube in vegetation with people walking inside
Rendering of the side view of the new building at Glenstone Museum (The Boundary/Courtesy the Glenstone Museum)

The Serra pavilion will literally and figuratively stand on its own. Located on the eastern side of the campus, visitors will follow the Woodland Trail over a bridge and find a new landscape designed by Adam Greenspan of PWP Landscape Architecture. The building, also constructed from precast concrete but with wider, vertically oriented panels, will have a single, centered doorway to enter and exit from. From the renderings, it appears the new structure will nestle into the surrounding vegetation and loom into view upon approach like a mysterious natural rock formation or cave.

Although the Glenstone Museum has revealed that the Serra installation will be one of the artist’s newer large-scale pieces, no further information has been made public at this time. The new pavilion is currently expected to open in the spring or summer of 2022.