This is the 11th year of the awards, which recognize the innovative and outstanding use of laminated glass in architectural projects worldwide.One of the DuPont Benedictus Awards® judges, Lewis Koerner (Italy) said of the Pola Museum of Art: "This project is really sensual.It's built in the middle of a forest, a five-story structure with only half a story above ground. The atrium showers visitors with light and brings natural light to all the circulation areas. It permeates the space below with light."
Another of the judges, Santiago Calatrava, said: "Pola demonstrates how laminated glass can be used in architecture extensively and successfully, combined with beautiful detailing."
In a record year comprising 150 submissions from throughout the world, the 2003 DuPont Benedictus Awards jury selected 12 winning projects covering each of the award's six category sections. More than two thirds of the entries were from outside North America. One of the judges this year, Santiago Calatrava, highlighted two winning projects, the Pola Art Museum of Japan and the Lens Ceiling of the Phoenix Courthouse, Arizona by James Carpenter Design Associates, for outstanding technical and design merit.
The Pola Museum of Art is located in the heart of the lush, mountainside, Hakone forest in Kanagawa - one of the most scenic areas in Japan. The architects say that their main goal in designing the museum, which hosts a private collection of Impressionist paintings, was to achieve "the symbiosis of the architecture with its surroundings - while trying not to spoil the wonderful natural setting." The museum was thus mostly built below ground level with a cross-shaped, strongly geometrical, building plan 'floating' within a bowl-shaped cut out in the mountainside.
Clear laminated glass is used for the primary architectural feature of the Pola Museum of Art: a transparent, sloped skylight. According to the architects: "The skylight is the light spine of the museum. Using it, we were able to create a highly transparent space despite the cold climate of the area." The skylight's design means that visitors entering the Museum are greeted with magnificent views of the nearby village of Kozukayama, and can immediately comprehend the overall layout of the building by means of a panoramic view downwards through the glass atrium, extending to the second underground floor.
Use of laminated glass for the skylight also meant that the architects could meet safety and security codes for the project, enabling the structure to withstand the earthquakes that are common to the region while also mitigating the potentially harmful effects of UV rays coming through the skylight onto the artworks displayed in the exhibition rooms facing the lobby. Laminated glass is also incorporated for structural ribs supporting the sloped glass skylight and for a structural beam that forms its ledge, for the Museum's entry bridge balustrade and a bus stop outside the Museum. The bus stop is protected by a three metre long, laminated glass cantilever canopy that is strong enough to protect visitors from falling tree branches, rain and snow.
In addition to the Pola Museum of Art, the 2003 Awards judges also selected two Category Winners and recognized nine projects with Honorable Mentions for their innovations in architectural laminated glass.