The doors are open again on Tuesday, Feburary 6 after a heated six weeks of major demolition and reconstruction. The $15 million expansion is not quite complete, but everyone is welcome back to take a glass class, watch glassblowing demonstrations, and explore the growing facility.
From the outside, it’s a transparent transformation expanding up and over the parking lot and adding a third floor. Indovina Associates Architects designed a plan to allow us to nearly double our capacity to keep up with the increasing demand for glass programs and studios and allow space for more community programming.
We began construction in March 2023 and less than a year later there is a new glass house. The Albert M. Higley Co. has been working nonstop to complete the construction part of the project on time so that we can offer classes again this week. Many more exciting developments are expected in subsequent months. A public reopening celebration is planned for fall 2024.
A Sneak Peek
New, high-thermal efficient glass, VacuMax™ Vacuum Insulating Glass (VIG), and Solarban® 72 Starphire® glass panels donated by Vitro Architectural Glass, and colorful glass panels were installed on the front of the building. VacuMax™ VIG is a newly designed product that rivals the thermal performance of traditional walls, delivering world-leading insulating value on a scale previously unachievable with conventional glazings. It’s the first implementation of this newly designed product in the region.
The colorful glass panels in five warm shades repeat down the skinny return of the sawtooth curtain wall on the outside of the building and spill into the new classroom. The effect is a “sunset” fade as you drive or walk down Penn Avenue.
The Solarban® 72 Starphire glass by Vitro offers brilliant clarity and true-to-life views of the outdoors. The new flexible classroom space will enjoy amazing views through this curtain wall of glass and can accommodate hands-on group experiences such as making fused tiles and mosaics, as well as community meetings, public lectures, and exhibitions.
The third floor will be home to a second glassblowing studio, specifically for professional artists that live in Pittsburgh and rely on PGC to make a living; a spacious outdoor patio facing Penn Avenue; and administrative offices. The third floor, opening in July, will be open to the public to explore and watch glass artists at work. This new studio will be the main venue for glassblowing demonstrations during free First Friday open-house events. The Vitro Patio is a large outdoor deck overlooking Penn Avenue that will serve as an overflow area for increased capacity for the growing attendance at glassblowing demonstrations, a place for students to take a break and enjoy the fresh air, or a great location for private parties.
Thanks to an accessibility and inclusion grant from Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD), the entire building is accessible to all visitors including people with physical disabilities and limited mobility using a new elevator and wheelchair lift. This includes 100 percent of the free, ongoing programming such as exhibitions, open-house glassblowing demonstrations, and self-guided tours.
A bright, beautiful retail boutique, supported by the Hans and Leslie Fleischner Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation, will open right on Penn Avenue this spring. It will showcase both aspiring and established glass artists, makers, and designers.
Now is a good time to sign up for a class. We doubled the size of the kiln studio, the flame studio, and the cold studio to make room for more students and add room for visiting artists in residence to experiment with glass and display their art. New additions coming later this spring include a second hot shop dedicated to professional artists, a neon studio, and a fabrication lab with new technology such as 3D printing and water jet cutting.
This spring, PGC will begin renovation of a second 6,500-square-foot building located at 5431 Penn Avenue, at the corner of North Graham Street and Penn Avenue, two blocks away from the existing facility. This building, the former Horoscope Lounge, will be transformed into a flexible space for emerging artist exhibitions and community programming, as well as additional housing for technical apprentices and visiting artists.
Stop by, Explore, and Get Ready for More
Pittsburgh Glass Center is free and open to the public now. Take a class, watch glassblowing demonstrations, and explore the newly expanded space. In the next few months, we will put the finishing touches on the building and install specific glass equipment to open even more of the expanded space.
The next free Hot Jam Open House is scheduled for Friday, March 1 at 6pm.
“Myth-Science of the Gatekeepers,” a new exhibition in the Hodge Gallery, will open on Friday, May 3. It features a collection of 16 glass sculptures of Black same gender loving men cast as ancient Egyptian deities by Rainbow Serpent, a Black LGBTQ arts collective led by Marques Redd and Mikael Owunna.
A public reopening celebration is planned for fall 2024.
Photos by Sandra Bacchi
Shattering Expectations is a transformational capital campaign that seeks your support to realize Pittsburgh Glass Center’s full potential as a hub for artistic excellence and a driver of economic opportunity through a major expansion of our facilities.
Scan the QR code, click the link image, or text “glass” to 51555 to learn more about what’s coming for Pittsburgh Glass Center and how you can be involved!