The New-York Historical Society has transformed an old archive on its fourth floor into a 4,800-square-foot, two-story gallery dedicated to one hundred Tiffany lamps. The creation of the gallery was spurred by the discovery that Clara Driscoll, one of the “Tiffany Girls” (women who worked for Tiffany Studios and selected the glass fragments that went into the lamps), was a leading creative force and designed many Tiffany lamps herself. London-based Eva Jiricna Architects designed the gallery’s curving glass, as well as an all-glass stair that connects the space’s two levels. Each of the stair’s vertical supports and corresponding risers are, in fact, single pieces of glass hung in tension. The pieces were custom fabricated in Norwich, England, and feature metal connectors subtly hidden in layers of laminated glass. Georgina Papathanasiou, an associate at Eva Jiricna Architects, said the staircase was “a feat of technology in the 21st century” to match the technical achievement of Tiffany and Driscoll’s 20th-century creations. New York City–based PBDW were the architects of record. The Gallery of Tiffany Lamps New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, New York Tel: 212-873-3400 Architect: Eva Jiricna Architects
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Yesterday morning, the New-York Historical Society previewed the totally transformed fourth floor of its Upper West Side museum—once a drab archive, it will soon host 100 Tiffany Lamps in a space designed by London- and Prague-based architect Eva Jiřičná. The creation of the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps was spurred by the discovery that Clara Driscoll, one of the “Tiffany Girls” (women who worked for Tiffany Studios and selected the glass fragments that went into the lamps), was a leading creative force and designed many Tiffany lamps herself. New York City–based PBDW were the architects of record for the 4,800-square-foot, two-story gallery, which features specially-crafted curving glass displays surrounded by a low-light environment and dark blue walls. Jiřičná's firm, who has come to specialize in glass construction, designed the LED-lit stairs with absolutely minimal metal details. In most instances, the stair's glass-to-glass metal connections are encased within the layers of laminated glass panes, making them totally flush and well-hidden. Furthermore, the stair's glass hangs off the nearby wall and works in tension. A small amount of give was engineered into the steps for users' comfort when walking upward. Georgina Papathanasiou, an associate at Eva Jiřičná Architects, said the staircase was "a feat of technology in the 21st-century" to match the technical achievement of Tiffany's 20th-century creations. In addition to telling the history of the Tiffany Girls and Clara Driscoll, visitors can create their own Tiffany lamp through an interactive digital installation (created by Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Small Design firm Inc.) on the second floor.
The New York Historical Society announced today that Czech architect Eva Jiřičná will design a new space for exhibitions and study on the 20,000 square foot fourth floor of the society's Central Park West building. The 3,000 square foot, two story gallery will showcase the society's permanent collection of Tiffany lamps. The gallery, Jiřičná's first major New York project, will feature one of the architect's signature glass staircases. The floor will also be home to complementary entities, including the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture, the Center for the Study of Women's History. The design recalls earlier work, like the Jewellery Gallery at London's Victoria & Albert Museum, and the residential interior for a client in Mayfair, London. In the Tiffany Gallery, islands of curved, floor-to-ceiling glass frame each lamp while allowing a 360 degree view. To be viewed as originally intended, the lamps will be illuminated in the darkened gallery. The gallery's mezzanine, connected to the lower level's exhibition via the glass staircase, contains additional lamps and a more traditional, rectilinear program. The programming on the mezzanine will feature exhibitions on the lamp-making process. Though it sounds incongruous at first, there is a strong connection between the Center for the Study of Women's History and Tiffany lamps. Clara Driscoll and her "Tiffany Girls" designed and fabricated many of Tiffany's most famous lamps, including the Wisteria (ca. 1901) and Dragonfly (ca. 1900–1906). Jiřičná's design will unify the themes expressed in the collection. The space is expected to open to the public in early 2017.