Barnes Museum and Art Education Center

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Associates

The Barnes Museum and Art Education Center opened in May 2012 to universal praise from the design community.

Architect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Associates

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Completed: 2012

LEED: Gold Certified

Interior: White Oak (Clear Lacquer)

Exterior: White Oak (Sikkens)

Duratherm Products:
Window Walls

Showcasing the Collection with Natural Light

The Barnes Collection has long been considered one of the art world’s greatest treasures. For several years, plans moved forward to relocate the private collection from the Philadelphia suburb to Philadelphia’s museum district. The design and construction of a new building was essential. The new galleries were to include an abundance of natural lighting while still providing critical solar protection, state-of-the-art security, high-energy performance, and the clean aesthetic demanded by the architect’s vision.

For architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien Associates, the selection of a window manufacturer that could accommodate all of these sometimes-conflicting requirements was simple: they called upon the experts at Duratherm Window Company.

Crafting Custom Window Walls to Meet Stringent Requirements

Duratherm’s history of collaboration with elite architects and clients from around the world, and of creating unique and distinctive fenestration solutions, made the choice an easy one. It was no surprise that Duratherm was called upon to play a powerful role in the rebirth of the Barnes Collection in its new location.

Conservation and protection are overriding concerns in museum design and construction. In the case of the Barnes Collection, the 800 precious paintings had to be protected from the ravages of -- and yet still viewed in -- the rich sunlight. The unique collection occupies 24 galleries, all collected and arranged by Dr. Barnes.

As Duratherm Vice President and Barnes Museum Project Manager Keith Birden noted: “Because we were contacted in the early stages, we were able to research and meet the paramount requirements of the forced-entry specification while still satisfying the aesthetic, curatorial, and energy performance criteria. Our research included developing concealed stainless steel glass capture detailing that ties back to the building structure, making the windows [walls] virtually impenetrable. The effectiveness of this detailing was affirmed in the course of rigorous forced-entry testing of a full-size gallery mock-up window by an independent testing agency.”

Each oversized glass panel was extremely heavy, so precise hanging was critical. Both Tod Williams Billie Tsien Associates and the Barnes Collection needed an expert manufacturer with extensive experience in handling wood-framed glass windows. To this end, Duratherm developed a removable clasp at the head of the units (some weighing well over a ton) to facilitate movement and placement on-site by crane

The Impact of the Duratherm Difference

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Associates’ design for the Barnes has received rave reviews from a variety of sources, among them The Economist, Vanity Fair, Architectural Record and The New York Times. The natural interior lighting receives particular note, since it brought out the depth of color and texture for the priceless collection of paintings that had been masked by the dark interiors of the previous facility.

Duratherm is very proud of the role it has played in this latest success. Timothy P. Downing, president of Duratherm, stated, “Working with the Barnes Foundation and with Tod Williams Billie Tsien Associates was a privilege. Every employee here at Duratherm was personally engaged and committed to the success of this project. It was a large, complex project that drew on all of our resources. The wonderful results of this successful collaboration are now obvious to all.”

"Trust is always a vital factor in all of our projects,” continued Mr. Downing. “The Barnes Collection entrusted us with their priceless holdings – to design and manufacture windows that would preserve and illuminate them today and into the future. We are honored to have played such an important role.”

Now that the doors to the new museum have opened, this collection, for the first time, is readily accessible to all visitors. Located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the museum district between the Rodin Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Museum stands to become a key destination for art lovers from all over the world.

Barnes Museum wins AIA 2013 Honor Award

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

The American Institute of Architects awarded a prestigious Honor Award to the Barnes Museum and Tod William Billie Tsien Architects. The citation stated: enabling the relocation of the Barnes from its historic home in Merion, Pennsylvania, to downtown Philadelphia, the architects replicated the proportion and configuration of the original galleries in a larger facility that also features a garden and new classroom space. Congratulations to our clients Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and to the Barnes Museum. A great project and new signature building in Philadelphia.

For more than 60 years, the AIA Honor Awards program has "recognized achievements for a broad range of architectural activity to elevate the general quality of architectural practice, establish a standard of excellence against which all architects can measure performance, and to inform the public of the breadth and value of architecture today."