Graham Baba Architects for the Lino Tagliapietra Glass Studio

Graham Baba Architects,

Benjamin Benschneider,

Seattle, USA,


Bricks, Glass,

The American Graham Bab architecture studio has transformed a historic pre-existing building in Seattle, an old auction house, into the showroom for the well-known glass artist Lino Tagliapietra. A recovery intervention that emphasises the materiality of architecture, in a balanced dialogue with the glass art.

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Graham Baba Architects for the Lino Tagliapietra Glass Studio
The combination of art and architecture creates extremely interesting connections and, when an architecture studio is called upon to create something for an artist, we can certainly expect captivating results. This is exactly what happened in the case of the well-known glass artist, Lino Tagliapietra. Since the 1970s, the artist has been dividing his time between Murano, Italy and Seattle, Washington where he produces his unique pieces displayed in some of the most prestigious museums in the world, as well as in numerous galleries and private collections.
For his Seattle studio, designers from the Graham Baba Architects studio, also based in Seattle, started their design concept from one of Lino Tagliapietra’s fundamental principles: "Working with glass is like life: it’s emotional. You have to love the material. You must respect the material." This love for the material thus fittingly became the logical thread of the restoration and transformation intervention of a historic pre-existing building in Seattle’s Belltown district for Maestro Tagliapietra new showroom. The new glass Studio occupies a 1917, one-story, masonry and heavy-timber building that is harmoniously inserted into the urban fabric.
To emphasise the lightness and beauty of the works on display, the Graham Baba Architects studio has completely rethought the interiors of the structure. The entrance to the showroom is defined by a large wood and steel door which incorporates a modest illuminated cut-steel sign announcing the name of the premises: Lino Tagliapietra Glass Studio. The door opens onto an inclined internal ramp that runs parallel to the studio. The studio is essentially a large, open 566-square-metre space. The bricks have been painted in matte grey, in perfect harmony with the floors in a subtly bleached white oak.
Details within the space have been kept to a minimum and serve as a quiet counterpoint to the art and to the elemental materials inherent to the building. Supporting spaces, including a glass-fronted office and conference room, restrooms, kitchenette and a storage area, complete the functions on the main floor. Custom designed wood and hot-rolled steel furnishings decorate the spaces. The conference table, on the other hand, is made in fir beams reclaimed from the construction of the same building. Finally, steel display stands of various heights and wall and ceiling mounts – also in steel – have been used to support the art.
Light becomes one of the most important aspects of the project, allowing Maestro Tagliapietra glass art to emerge. Architects from the Graham Baba studio have proposed a central 4.8-metre-wide and 13.7-metre-long roof insert which, thanks to a glazed strip, allows natural light to flood the space. This creates the sensation of being inside an illuminated cube in which large collections of works can be exhibited. In the evening, the indirect lighting inserted in the ceiling of this skylight dramatically emphasise the magic of glass.
The Lino Tagliapietra Glass Studio designed by Graham Baba Architects presents itself as a perfect combination of past and present, between different materials, all carefully conceived to best exhibit art in a recovered, welcoming and fascinating environment.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Graham Baba Architects
Location: Seattle, USA
Year: 2018
Images: Benjamin Benschneider