Credit: Christine Zhu

Glenstone, a private contemporary art museum in Potomac, previewed a new building on Wednesday designed for a newly acquired work of art by Richard Serra.

Architect Thomas Phifer collaborated with Serra, the artist behind “Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure.” Serra is widely considered one of the most influential living sculptors and helped build Glenstone’s reputation as a destination for monumental site-specific artwork, according to Glenstone director and co-founder Emily Wei Rales.

The preview was open to members of the media. Wei Rales and Phifer gave remarks before allowing guests to tour the building, as well as the museum’s other outdoor exhibits.

The building is the first new construction on Glenstone’s grounds since the opening of the Pavilions in 2018, according to senior communications manager Erica Bogese.

“Four Rounds” consists of four steel cylindrical forms. Each weighs 82 tons, but they are of different sizes: two stand 45 inches tall with a diameter of 127 inches, and the other two are 120 inches tall and 78 inches in diameter.

“The scale and spacing of these massive objects — situated in an elongated square arrangement — throws into relief the size and physicality of the viewer in relation to how these four objects occupy space,” the curatorial statement said.

Architect Thomas Phifer collaborated with sculptor Richard Serra to design the building. Photo by Christine Zhu

Phifer’s building, designed specifically for “Four Rounds,” is intended as an integral part of experiencing the sculpture in addition to serving as a container, according to Wei Rales. The 4,000-square-foot structure was constructed entirely of cast-in-place structural concrete.

Phifer said during the preview that concrete is his favorite material to work with.

“I love the fact that it’s handmade, that it forms itself into any shape, that it’s malleable,” Phifer said.


White glass skylights allow for daylight to enter the room to illuminate the cylindrical forms, according to Bogese. As a result, the light in the space shifts throughout the day as the sun moves overhead.

It took about a year to produce drawings for the building with Serra and about a year and a half for the construction, Phifer said.

The exhibit opened to the public on Thursday. Glenstone is open Thursdays through Sundays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.


Christine Zhu of Gaithersburg, a rising junior at the University of Maryland who is studying journalism and Spanish, is the Bethesda Beat summer intern.