For years this renowned mid-western art museum was plagued with complaints about the lack of accessibility. Designed in 1948 the Saarinen Wing, which serves as the main entrance, lacked any type of amenity, or thought for the disabled. Entrances to the education and gallery wings were elevated with stairs, and the building lacked an elevator. Subsequent additions by I.M. Pei and Richard Meier also avoided the issue. As such, handicapped persons were required to enter the back of the building near the loading dock, and required special assistance to manage the security protocol. With the only public elevator located in the Meier wing the lower level of the Saarinen education wing was completely unaccessible to the handicapped.

In order to solve the entrance issues and connections between floors, a new steel and glass elevator addition with an accessible ramp was added adjacent to the education wing entrance. As a result, disabled museum patrons can now enter at a primary building entrance, and have free access to all levels. Materials were deliberately kept simple and delicate to contrast with the heavy stone masonry of the Saarinen Wing. Due to the small project size and unique conditions, a custom designed, stainless steel, point supported glazing system was created in complete integration with the structural steel frame.

Faced with a strict budget, the completely custom glass and stainless steel enclosure of the elevator was only made cost effective through the use of BIM modeling and advanced prefabrication technologies. The steel frame was shop fabricated in 3 pieces (shaft, vestibule, ramp) with all glazing hardware pre-attached. The metal fabricator was charged with constructing the steel frame and stainless steel curtain wall hardware, and producing coordinated glazing shop drawings. Using this system the design/construction team was able to deliver a unique product for the same cost as standard off-the-shelf curtain wall components.