Guide to interior glass: Keys to collaboration
How can we contribute to artwork that enhances a building, stays in the confines of a construction budget, gets installed without posing difficulties for the contract glazier, and satisfies the creative desires of the team? This article addresses issues that contribute to successful collaboration between the architect, contract glazier and artist in creating glass artwork. These issues include: How architects or contract glaziers can find appropriate artists to share parallel visions with the architect and owner; and what makes contract glaziers or glass-shop workers a pleasure for artists to work with, and vice versa.
Start out right
Bring the glass artist into the architectural planning process as early as possible. This allows the artwork to be seamlessly integrated into the overall project. Waiting to incorporate the art into the building plan after windows or curtain walls have been installed can result in expensive changes and costly delays.
Some contract glaziers and design professionals may be cautious, even apprehensive, about incorporating art glass into their projects. Each piece of artwork is unique, and there’s always some uncertainty in the creative process.
Glaziers may not realize how important a role they play in the success of such collaborations. After all, contract glaziers have worked with glass in architecture more extensively than most glass artists have. The projects I loved most were those where the glaziers shared their expertise generously to help make the projects move forward smoothly. They also didn’t hesitate to provide written specifications for the fabrication of the artwork so that, for instance, the installations fit the hardware and could be installed without problems.
Let’s look at the important roles that each professional plays in such collaboration.
The glass artist
• Adds another point of view to the design process
• Educates other team members regarding what is technically possible with art glass
• Integrates glass art into the project design
• Can help meet a requirement for public art in buildings.
• Ensures the project meets budget
• Coordinates with consultants such as lighting specialists who affect the art-glass installation
• Communicates with the artist in regard to
• Keeps the glass artist informed of project changes that impact the artwork
• Sells the owner on the idea and helps set up a relationship between the artist and owner
• Keeps the art from being value-engineered out of the project.
The contract glazier
• Communicates with the artist on specific fabrication requirements for the installation of the art glass
• Keeps the artist informed of project changes that impact the artwork and keeps the artist to the
Beyond, collaboration, the glass artist
• Connects art with architecture
• Brainstorms the art concept with those involved
• Meets the budget and schedule
• Provides a model, rendering and sample of the planned artwork to illustrate the concept
• Communicates special needs for lighting, power, water and so forth to the architect and contract glazier
• Keeps informed of project changes.
The glass artist needs to be involved in the selection of hardware for the mounting of the art glass, and at the same
The glass artist needs to be aware of other materials being used with the art glass, such as adhesives. The material may interfere with the surface appearance of the artwork. For example, I once created art glass for the lobby of a corporate headquarters building. The art glass was sandblasted on the back, and the glazier used crystal-clear silicone that accentuated the butt-joins between the panels. The silicone needed to be removed and replaced with regular silicone with a milky appearance.
What is the value of art in architecture and design? Art glass:
• Gives a sense of purpose to a business
• Improves the aesthetics of the environment
• Can be included in the construction budget
• Can be designed as functional art to reduce the likelihood of it being value-engineered out
• Can be an appreciating asset
• Can raise the emotional sense of well-being for workers and visitors
• Has lasting quality
• Personalizes spaces
• Creates identification that can be used in marketing
• Creates a sense of pride in workers’ and owners’ environments
• Creates a branding opportunity for a business or building owner
• Can be an opportunity for community involvement
• Fosters opportunities for publicity.
Some common pitfalls can undermine a project; they may include: Not allowing enough
Good communication, listening and addressing the concerns of those involved, a give-and-take attitude, a desire to collaborate, advanced planning, providing drawings and samples, meeting budgets and deadlines, and most of all, mutual respect for the expertise of all participants, lead to meaningful collaboration. When such a project is finished, and the buzz turns positive, team members feel great about their contribution to the endeavor.