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A Dazzling “Crimson Cube”

WSU Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Hoffman maximizes the value of design-build delivery to create a beautiful home for the University’s growing permanent art collection, as well as space for special and traveling exhibitions. Inside the dazzling “Crimson Cube” are six exhibition spaces to showcase everything from prints and sculpture to fibers, ceramics, and interactive video installations.

This design-build project transformed a former campus public safety building into an elegant art museum. It provides 10,000 SF of new gallery space and 7,000 SF of support space. Hoffman was challenged to deliver Olson-Kundig’s concept design within a very tight budget that was cut by 10% before construction started. The design posed formidable engineering challenges, with many long lines to sharp corners and a total absence of trim work.


How do you deliver a visionary design within a very tight budget?


Museum staff had been waiting at least 15 years to upgrade from the old facility, and expectations were high. Hoffman, the designers, and WSU leveraged the design-build process to examine virtually every assumption about the project. The project team kept laser focus on the highest value portions of the project: the Crimson glass, gallery space, lighting, and realization of the Olson-Kundig design vision.

Contract Type



Washington State University


Olson Kundig, Design West Architects


Pullman, WA






2018 Building of the Year — Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce

Jordan Schnitzer Museum reflects its surroundings with red mirrored glass
Archpaper — November 22, 2019

A Modern, Industrial Interior

For administrative and support spaces, the staff embraced a minimalist “artist loft” style. The original concrete floors were exposed to show their patina and tell the story of the structure, while open ceilings with exposed mechanical and electrical systems lent a modern industrial feel. Hoffman worked with the craftspeople to ensure that systems were installed with a view to the final aesthetic impact. For example, duct sealants were masked like trim paint, and conduit runs were coordinated to be orderly and clean.

A Modern, Industrial Interior image
A Modern, Industrial Interior image

Planning for Long Lead Times to Deliver the Iconic Glass Rain Screen

The signature feature of the design is the Crimson Glass Rain Screen system, a laminated mirror glass system custom-designed and fabricated for this project. The system features tight open joints with very tight tolerances and a highly reflective surface. The glass material is manufactured in The Netherlands and had a 20-week lead time.

Planning for Long Lead Times to Deliver the Iconic Glass Rain Screen image

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