The Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has awarded the Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion at the James A. Michener Art Museum with its highest honor, a Gold Medal for Design Excellence.
The Putman Event Pavilion, an elegant, all-glass structure, is now open for special events at the James A. Michener Art Museum. Designed by Philadelphia-based architects KieranTimberlake, the 3,400 square foot addition provides a premier indoor and outdoor space for large public programs ranging from Jazz Nights to lectures and private events. It allows multiple museum programs 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 in the Event Pavilion are among the largest self-supporting insulated glass units worldwide.
“Our partnership with Kieran Timberlake and Adams-Bickel has resulted in a cohesive, elegant space that further adds to the aesthetics that define the museum operation,” said Michener Director and CEO Lisa Tremper Hanover, on learning of the award. “Its function as a multi-purpose space has already yielded positive results and rave reviews.”
The distinguished jury of architects included Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Marlon Blackwell Architect, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Rand Elliott, FAIA, Elliot + Associates, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Andrew Wells, AIA, Dake Wells Architecture, Springfield, Missouri, Reese Rowland, AIA, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Jennifer Herron, AIA, Herron-Horton Architects, Little Rock, Arkansas.
They commented on the “clarity of the idea and its restrained, yet obviously very difficult resolution that allows the space to be the star, focused on an incredible stone wall that would normally be ignored,” and further offered that, “it would have been so easy to extend the glass walls to the courtyard wall, but it doesn’t, which does more to celebrate its texture and materiality. A brilliant move.”
The team for the Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion included CVM Engineers, Structural Engineer, Bruce Brooks & Associates, M/P/E/FP, Carroll Engineering Corporation, Civil Engineer, OLIN, Landscape Architect, Sean O’Connor Lighting, Inc., Lighting Designer, Metropolitan Acoustics, LLC, AV/Acoustics, Dewhurst MacFarlane, Curtainwall Consultant, and Adams-Bickel Associates, Inc., Construction Manager.
KieranTimberlake’s placement for the Event Pavilion preserves the existing terrace and allows for passage through the museum’s Sculpture Garden. “The wisdom of this scheme is that the Pavilion remains accessible both from the indoor galleries and through the outdoor Sculpture Garden, and its highly ambitious glass construction creates a powerful architectural statement that adds significantly to the museum’s physical identity,” said past Michener Director/CEO Bruce Katsiff. “Museums are expected to build architectural wonders and this project will help the Michener fulfill its mission by attracting new audiences and generating the funds to continue our service to the region.”
The $5 million project was assisted by a $2 million grant from the State of Pennsylvania. First Lady Susan Corbett, who chairs the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, praised Katsiff at an opening reception as a “visionary” for creating this revenue-generating venture.
James Timberlake, lead design partner for the project, said, “From the very beginning we thought that to truly celebrate the museum wall, and make the landscape more useful, a modest, transparent jewel box should be inserted in the garden. This singular act now brings this very special stone wall, which defines the museum, directly into the experience of the museum visitor.”
Constructed by Adams-Bickel Associates, the Event Pavilion demonstrates a unique and ambitious use of structural glass panels, allowing seamless views to and from the interior of the museum toward the magnificent former prison walls that enclose the Patricia D. Pfundt Sculpture Garden.
Supplied by Roschmann Group in Gersthofen, Germany, each glass panel consists of five layers, measures 5’ x 7” x 23’ 6”, and weighs approximately 3,350 pounds. A highly specialized, custom designed suction device developed by Roschmann was used by the contractors to lift the glass into place.
The Sculpture Garden now contains two terraces to the east and west of the Pavilion, accessed through pivoting doors. In order to create a more dramatic entrance sequence, the entire garden platform was raised 18” to eliminate the need for ramps or stairs leading to the new building, and is paved with a combination of concrete, river rocks, and recycled limestone.
Founded in 1989, the museum occupies the site of the former Bucks County Prison, built in 1884 and designed by Addison Hutton. Although much of the prison was torn down in 1986, remnants of the old stone building are incorporated into the museum, including three massive 23-foot tall fieldstone prison walls.
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