CHIHULY BRIDGE OF GLASS 

Chihuly Bridge of GlassA partnership between the Museum of Glass, legendary Studio Glass pioneer Dale Chihuly and the city of Tacoma resulted in the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot-long pedestrian overpass that links the Museum to downtown Tacoma and its cultural corridor. Austin-based Arthur Andersson, architect of the Washington State History Museum, designed the bridge in close collaboration with Chihuly, who directed the artistic concept. The bridge provides a means for the internationally-renowned Chihuly to contribute in a very public way to his hometown.

Three distinct installations comprise the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.  Furthest from the Museum is the Seaform Pavilion, a ceiling made of 2,364 objects from Chihuly's Seaform and Persian series. Placed on top of a fifty-by-twenty-foot plate-glass ceiling, the forms are suspended in midair and make dramatic use of natural light. As visitors walk under this pavilion, they experience a seemingly underwater world of glass shapes and forms a few feet above their heads.

Marking the center of the bridge are the Crystal Towers, which rise forty feet above the bridge deck and serve as beacons of light for the Chihuly Bridge of Glassbridge and city. Illuminated from below, the forms glow at night. The 63 large crystals in each tower are made from Polyvitro, a polyurethane material developed to withstand the elements. The Crystal Tower elements are raw, brutal forms, monumental and bold, that appear as if cut from mountain peaks or taken from frozen alpine lakes.

Closest to the Museum is the Venetian Wall, an eighty-foot installation displaying 109 sculptures from three of Chihuly's series: Venetians, Ikebana, and Putti. The Venetians are exuberant sculptures with origins in Venetian Art Deco glass. Ikebana are quiet pieces, created in the spirit of traditional Japanese floral arrangements. Putti were popular figures in European art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and represent Cupid, the Roman god of love. The Venetian Wall is a collection of some of the largest blown-glass works executed in the history of the medium.

The bridge is the gateway that welcomes people to Tacoma.
We wanted something unique in the world, something that
is full of color and offers a joyous experience to passersby
both night and day.

—Dale Chihuly

 

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Image credits:
Chihuly Bridge of Glass, 2002, Tacoma, Washington. Dale Chihuly, artist, Andersson-Wise Architects.
Photos 1-3 by Mahesh Thapa. 
Photos 4-5 by Terry Rishel, courtesy of Chihuly Studio.

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