GLASSY EYED

reflection-glass-building-architectureI like glass as much as the next guy, but enough is enough. Just as the sixties architects went crazy about exposed concrete, architects today can’t get enough of glass. It’s used in the name of transparency, reflectivity, technology, ecology. If you’re a minimalist you like glass because it’s not there; if you’re a techie, you can accessorize it with all sorts of neat details; if you’re a not-very-good architect, glass will absolve you of having to design the facade. And who thinks up those glass details? Glass walls overlapping glass walls; facades that cantilever into this air; glass butting glass. Structural glass has its place, but it’s become a cliché. Gehry did a witty riff on fritted glass in the IAC Building on Manhattans Lower West Side, but most glass buildings are one-liners. Nor are glass buildings benign, as we have learnt in Dallas and London. I wonder how this glass architecture will fare in the future? Exposed concrete did not do so well, as so many unloved Brutalist buildings demonstrate. I’m not sure that glass buildings are equally disliked, but neither are they cherished. It’s hard to cosy up to transparency.

4 Responses to GLASSY EYED

  • Yes, thank you! This is a particular problem here in DC where I had the privilege of hearing you speak and getting my book signed. The odd thing is, and I had never made the connection until now thanks to your posting, the glass buildings are replacing the concrete buildings! But what will replace the glass in 20 years?

  • Julie says:

    Here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we’re a bit known for having a good juxtaposition of newer glass buildings with older brick and stone historical ones. It is nice, but I worry about overkill of glass going forward. It’s a fine balance.

  • Eric Fazzini says:

    Glass hi rises are ruining Chicago.

  • John Affleck says:

    Glass is certainly nicer than 60s concrete. 90s-era granite is lovely, like One International Place in Boston, or 260 Franklin Street. A question: if we had to build from just one style/material, what would we prefer? I am partial to reflective (rather than transparent) glass, but I suppose only if there’s lovely stone and brick to reflect!

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