The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex located in the Detroit metropolitan area. For the renewal of The Davidson-Gerson Modern Glass Gallery, a new glass block vestibule structure honors Henry Ford’s contributions to American industry. Referencing the use of optical glass in the 19th century, it reinvents the character of the entrance to the historic brick building.
The new vestibule connects the gallery entrance to the site of the museum by rotating the entrance 45 degree. The whole structure operates as a system of shear walls, in which each stack of structural cast glass blocks connects to adjacent slender vertical carbon steel mullions. Each separate glass block acts as a structural diagonal, while the horizontal and vertical structural silicone joints between each block are orthogonal ties within the diaphragm. The structural scheme was developed such that any one block could be easily removed and replaced if damage occurs, by supporting the dead load of each block on hidden removable brackets.
The vestibule creates a modern counterpoint to the surrounding historic buildings and presents a state-of-the-art glass structure to visitors.