If you haven’t visited Glenstone in Potomac, Maryland, yet, hurry up and go! The most spectacular part of the sprawling art campus located a half-hour northwest of Washington D.C., The Pavilions, is closing in mid-March for renovations that could take up to a year.
Opened with much fanfare in October 2018, the 204,000-square-foot exhibition building containing 11 cubic concrete galleries surrounding a water court was designed by New York-based Thomas Phifer and Partners to house single-artist installations of works by the likes of Michael Heizer, Roni Horn, Brice Marden, and Cy Twombly. Neither the museum nor the architect has elaborated on the nature of the renovations, leaving only speculation about what could cause such a young building—which cost approximately $200 million to construct—to shut down for so long.
When reached for comment, a museum representative said only that the renovations will “ensure that this magnificent building, with its award-winning design by architect Thomas Phifer, will continue to serve our public far into the next century.”
Shortly before the expansion’s opening, contractor HITT Contracting, Inc. filed a lawsuit against the foundation that operates the institution for $24 million in damages, alleging breach of contract and project mismanagement. Per the suit, a flurry of last-minute changes demanded by the foundation led to numerous delays and cost overruns that found the Falls Church, Virginia-based HITT having to self-fund construction for extended periods. The foundation denied any wrongdoing and filed a countersuit. The protracted legal fray was ultimately settled in June 2023. As reported by the Washington Business Journal at the time, terms of the agreement were not disclosed with the joint settlement resulting in the dismissal with prejudice of all claims and counterclaims in the case. Speaking to the Journal, a spokesperson for HITT only added that a “mutual resolution” had been reached between the two parties.
An additional freestanding pavilion designed by Phifer specifically to house a four-part work by sculptor Richard Serra was completed on the Glenstone campus in June 2022.
Glenstone, founded by Mitchell Rales and his wife, Emily Wei Rales, who is also its director, opened to the public in 2006 with a gallery designed by Charles Gwathmey. That building will still be accessible during The Pavilions’s closure, along with the grounds and the dining, bookstore, and arrival hall. The museum, which has free admission, is planning additions to its outdoor sculpture program during this period.