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French cloister (1150-1400), located at the Toledo Museum of Art
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by Ben Davis

Sleek and low-to-the-ground, dominated by curving, transparent surfaces, gleaming like an expensive new sports car, the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, which debuted Aug. 27, 2006, is a striking symbol of cultural power. Intended to give pride of place to the institution’s collection of art glass, the $30-million building, designed by the Japanese firm Sanaa, is the result of the largest public fund-raising drive ever undertaken in the area. It has received rave reviews: "It is not architecture with a Big Message," New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff pronounced. "It is about empathy for the human condition." (I too was relieved when "the human condition" was taken off the list of big issues to tackle.)