Glenstone Museum in Potomac has opened a new Thomas Phifer and Partners-designed building to house the sculpture Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure, 2017, by Richard Serra. Designed in collaboration with the artist, the 4,000-square-foot concrete structure is the first new construction on the museum’s grounds since the opening of the pavilions in 2018. 


The new building marks an addition to the overall collection of austere and minimal pavilions sited in Maryland and all realized by Thomas Phifer and Partners.

glenstone museum adds new building dedicated to single new work by richard serra




On June 23, 2022, Glenstone Museum introduced the new structure, the Richard Serra installation, and a connective boardwalk. Visitors to the museum approach the concrete volume by way of a woodland footpath along the eastern side of Glenstone’s property. A gently curved trail that extends from the bridge over the Greenbriar stream ultimately allows visitors to enter the building through a single, centered doorway. The boardwalk, structure, and artwork expand the visitor experience at Glenstone, adding opportunities to engage with art and architecture as well as the museum’s verdant landscape surroundings.


With the new additions, Glenstone continues to celebrate the work of Richard Serra with a number of his works currently on view at the museum. These works include Sylvester (2001), and Contour 290 (2004). 

glenstone museum adds new building dedicated to single new work by richard serra


‘Richard Serra’s work has been a cornerstone in the collection since the museum’s early days,’ said Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder. ‘He helped build Glenstone’s reputation as a destination for monumental site-specific artwork. The addition of Four Rounds to our outdoor program is made all the more special by the collaborative process between Richard and our architect, Tom Phifer. The building they designed is more than a container for the sculpture; it’s an integral part of the experience. We look forward to sharing the beauty of this extraordinary achievement with our visitors.’


One of the most influential artists of his generation, Richard Serra (American, b. 1938), has devoted his decades-long sculpture practice to considering the dynamic between form, space, and material. Composed of four cylindrical forms forged from steel, each weighing 82 tons, Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure by Richard Serra is one monumental sculpture. The surface of each form carries a rich, textured patina imprinted by the intense pressure of the forging process.

glenstone museum adds new building dedicated to single new work by richard serra


The work is housed inside an unadorned structure made of cast-in-place concrete that visitors will approach along a winding boardwalk.  The proportions of the interior building are tuned to the sculpture’s scale and placement. A simple concrete roof is supported by large beams, which serve as walls for the apertures that illuminate the space. White glass skylights bring in diffuse daylight. Variations in light and shadow are dictated by nature, providing visitors an unmediated experience that changes with the season.


‘It’s a privilege to work with Glenstone again, all the more so because of the exceptional opportunity to engage with Richard Serra,’ said Thomas Phifer. ‘Together, we were able to consider every detail of how the volume of the space interacts with the masses within, how the different qualities of light filtering down animate the surfaces of the sculpture, how the texture of the building’s concrete enters into dialogue with Serra’s steel. I hope Glenstone’s visitors feel as deeply satisfied as I do when they encounter this combination of place and object that is so apparently simple and elemental in its wholeness, and yet is completely imbued with thought.’


project info:


glenstone principals: Emily Wei Rales, Director and Co-Founder; Mitchell P. Rales, Co-Founder
building architect: Thomas Phifer and Partners
landscape architect: PWP Landscape Architecture
groundbreaking: February 22, 2021
public opening: June 23, 2022
structural engineer: Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, LLP
geotechnical engineering: Schnabel Engineering DCMEP
engineers: Mueller Associates
lighting / daylighting: Arup
civil engineer: Vika
irrigation: Sweeney Associates