Incorporating Art into The Visitor Experience

Share to twitter Share to pintrest Share to linkedin

Layering art into building design can have a big impact on the way a building is enjoyed, especially when it is integrated early and becomes part of the architecture itself. In designing a new library at Kenyon College the project team found an opportunity in a prominent building feature, a spacious atrium capped with an arcing structural skylight, to bring art into the building experience. Considering the skylight glass to be an ideal canvas, the GUND team turned to glass artists David Wilson, Kenn von Roenn and Ursula Vourvoulis for a collaborative design effort.

After considering multiple approaches, the artists proposed replacing select panels of glass in the skylight with custom designed panels featuring strips of colored glass. When illuminated by natural light they impart dappled and ever-changing color patterns onto the surfaces below.

Select panels receive a combination of two glazing treatments: prismatic pieces bonded to the float glass within the insulation space of the panel, and patterns of dichroic coating. The prismatic pieces refract daylight and disperse the individual spectral colors onto the surfaces below. The pieces are relatively small, and randomly placed across the skylight so that people enjoying the space see only the small spots of colors that appear on the surfaces around them.

Dichroic glass is created by applying micro layers of metals or oxides to the glass surface. For this installation, a variety of dichroic coatings were used to impart lively and saturated hues onto the space below. The patterns are visible on the skylight and because dichroic coatings have the effect of changing color at different viewing angles there is an element of surprise at unexpected and shifting colors when looking upward.

The artists and GUND’s project team are exploring the light patterns and effects of the glass placement before finalizing the glass panel design. Test panels are prominently displayed in GUND’s studio so that staff can see firsthand what impact the dappled colored light has on surrounding spaces.


Let's aim for



Do you have an upcoming project that you'd like to discuss?

274 Graham Gund Partners 2018 04 10 Gene 82 U8