glenstone museum adds new building dedicated to simple new work by richard serra


Glenstone Museum in Potomac opened a new Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners building to house the sculpture Four towers: equal weight, unequal measure2017, by Richard Serre. Designed in collaboration with the artist, the 4,000 square foot concrete structure is the first new construction on the of the museum grounds since the pavilions opened in 2018.

The new building marks an addition to the overall collection of austere and minimalist pavilions located in Maryland and all produced by Thomas Phifer and Partners.


On June 23, 2022, Glenstone Museum introduces the new structure, the installation of Richard Serra and a connecting promenade. Museum visitors approach the concrete volume via a wooded path along the east side of the Glenstone property. A gently curving pathway that extends from the bridge over Greenbriar Creek ultimately allows visitors to enter the building through a single centered doorway. The boardwalk, structure and artwork expand the visitor experience at Glenstone, adding opportunities to engage with the art and architecture as well as the verdant landscape of the museum.

With the new additions, Glenstone continues to celebrate the work of Richard Serra with a number of his works currently on display at the museum. These works include Sylvester (2001) and Contour 290 (2004).

glenstone museum adds new building dedicated to simple new work by richard serra

“The work of Richard Serra has been a cornerstone of the collection since the early days of the museum”, said Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder. “He helped build Glenstone’s reputation as a destination for site-specific monumental works of art. The addition of Four Rounds to our outdoor program is made even more special by the collaborative process between Richard and our architect, Tom Phifer. The building they designed is more than a container for sculpture; it is an integral part of the experience. We look forward to sharing the beauty of this extraordinary achievement with our visitors.

One of the most influential artists of his generation, Richard Serra (American, b. 1938), devoted his decades-long sculptural practice to considering the dynamics between form, space, and matter. Comprised of four cylindrical shapes forged from steel, each weighing 82 tons, Four towers: equal weight, unequal measure by Richard Serra is a monumental sculpture. The surface of each shape bears a rich, textured patina imprinted by the intense pressure of the forging process.

glenstone museum adds new building dedicated to simple new work by richard serra

The artwork is housed inside a no-frills cast-in-place concrete structure that visitors will approach along a winding promenade. The proportions of the interior building are adapted to the scale and location of the sculpture. A simple concrete roof is supported by large beams, which serve as walls for openings that illuminate the space. White glass skylights provide diffused daylight. Variations in light and shade are dictated by nature, providing visitors with an unmediated experience that changes with the season.

“It is a privilege to work with Glenstone again, all the more so because of the exceptional opportunity to engage with Richard Serra,” said Thomas Phifer. “Together we were able to examine every detail of how the volume of the space interacts with the masses within, how the different qualities of filtering light animate the surfaces of the sculpture, how the texture of the building’s concrete enters in dialogue with the spirit of Serra steel. I hope that visitors to Glenstone will feel as deeply satisfied as I do when they encounter this combination of place and object which is seemingly so simple and elemental in its entirety, and yet completely imbued with thought.

project info:

directors of glenstone: Emily Wei Rales, Director and Co-Founder; Mitchell P. Rales, Co-Founder
building architect: Thomas Phifer and Associates
landscape architect: Landscape Architecture PWP
revolutionary : February 22, 2021
public opening: June 23, 2022
structural engineer: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP
geotechnical engineering: Schnabel Engineering DCMEP
engineers: Muller Partners
lighting / daylight: Arup
civil engineer: vika
irrigation: Sweeney Associates

Juliana Neira I conceive

June 30, 2022

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