Museum Floor Becomes Elegant Canvas for Glass Art

In March 2015, The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., opened its Contemporary Art + Design Wing, the largest space in the world devoted to the display and creation of contemporary art and design in glass. The $64 million expansion features a 100,000-square-foot addition, which includes 26,000 square feet of gallery space and a 500-seat live glassblowing demonstration facility. The wing provides visitors with a day-lit environment in which to experience contemporary art and design in glass from the past 25 years.

The building façade is constructed of large, white glass panels that create a nearly seamless, softly reflective expanse. Inside, the building features a simple, white interior. The galleries are defined by massive, curved concrete walls that serve as the supports for the skylight roof. Skylights and overhead lighting provide optimal lighting conditions for works in glass. Concrete beams that are three-and-a-half inches thick and stand four feet tall rest on the curved gallery walls and diffuse the light as it comes through the skylights, directing the light to the white concrete floor where the glass is displayed.

Finding the right color

Since the walls are bright-white plaster, the architect wanted an extremely light gray concrete floor for subtle contrast. The original design specified a slag cement mix to provide that color. However, the ready-mix supplier was not able to provide the slag cement until late November 2014. Waiting for it would have jeopardized project scheduling and completion time.

The hunt was on for an alternative.

After several unsatisfactory concrete slab mock-ups, contractor D.J. Rossetti Inc. of Malta, N.Y., recommended using Rapid Set® TRU® Self-Leveling topping with integral color. The color pigment was matched from a paint color to achieve the architect’s desired look.

TRU Self Leveling is an advanced hydraulic cement-based, self-leveling topping, resurfacer, and underlayment that is crack-resistant and durable. For this project, it was used as a polishable topping. The one-component system cures to a light off-white color that’s ideal for stained, dyed or integrally colored floors. With the addition of custom pigment, it cured to a very light gray (almost white) that was perfect for the light-filled space.

Installing the floor

Before installing TRU, the D.J. Rossetti crew first performed surface preparation by using a grinder with 25-grit metal diamonds. Next, they applied Rapid Set TXP™, a two-component moisture- and alkali-insensitive epoxy primer. A one-coat application of the low-VOC primer seals porous concrete so floors can be installed in as little as 12 hours. They also broadcast 20/40 mesh sand to reduce outgassing and pinholes as well as seal any hairline cracks that formed in the topping slab below.

Crew members then placed the topping and used spike rollers to release any trapped gas. TRU rapidly levels, maintains workability for 30 minutes and produces a smooth, strong surface with high bond strength. It is ready for foot traffic in two to three hours and for coatings in about 12 hours. For flat surfaces, one 50-pound bag covers 22 to 24 square feet at 1/4 inch thick and 11 to 12 square feet at 1/2 inch thick. For this 26,000-square-foot project, they used 1,850 bags of product—which was mixed via hippo mixer and placed at 3/8-inch thick (covering approximately 15 square feet per bag).

Creating a satin finish

Since the architect wanted a dull finish, the contractor used a grinding machine with diamond tooling to polish the concrete to a matte sheen. The crew first used 80-grit metal, then 150-grit metal before moving onto 50-grit resin and finally 100-grit resin. The result is refined concrete flooring that acts as a sophisticated canvas for the museum’s glass art.

“With the opening of the new wing, we are able to display and interpret contemporary art and design in glass in the same elegant and thoughtful way in which it is being produced,” says Tina Oldknow, the museum’s senior curator of modern and contemporary glass.

Additional Photos

Product Spec Sheets

CS Unitec MEGA HIPPO Mixing Stations

  • CTS Cement RapidSet TXP
  • CTS Cement RapidSet Tru Self-Leveling
  • Prosoco SLX100 Water & Oil Repellent