Smash out of the box
We often are amused and impressed with the technological or hard side of glass, but neglect the artistic or soft side advancements. Combining the functional and artistic can achieve a different dimension for glass.
The combination of art and cutting-edge technology brings about contemporary architecture. Architecture today is about the continuum of time. We explore a more structurally advanced and artistically meaningful creation of space while considering the social and environmental causes. Advancements in glass technology are remarkable and provide a selection of attractive and functional products. Most designers look at glass as an opportunity to explore its function and beauty.
Often times though, I find rigid and unimpressive solutions derived from the use of glass. It seems the designer has taken details and materials as they have been developed by the glass and hardware manufacturers without exploring other possibilities. I also encounter compromises that occur when the product takes precedent and the designer just reacts to it. We should not react to the product, we should get inspired and create solutions that come from within to serve the client on different levels and at the highest degree.
Many selections and product lines have been created and are readily available to designers. Designers need to find a competitive and knowledgeable glass manufacturer whom they can talk to about possibilities. A nearby manufacturer will help in obtaining first-hand information about the industry’s design innovations, costs and value added to a project.
I’ve also witnessed amazing glass applications in exteriors, interiors, products and sculptures. The results are often published and get recognition for the way in which the details and the overall concept have been attained. In architecture as in art, we find the individuals who explore the possibilities and take chances with full force and responsibility. The payback is the reward of transcendence. Pushing the envelope is not easy, but it is the true representation of the nature of our spirit. Art is an intrinsic part of that spirit and allowing it to be present makes it possible to smash “out of the box.”
The two core functions for using glass in architecture are light and enjoyment of the vistas. The use of windows can reduce up to 60 percent of artificial light use. With global warming, saving on gas emissions is beneficial. Now it’s possible to have that loft in New York facing East with a monumental view as you watch the sun rise, read your morning paper and eat your bagel while not suffering the heat and glare commonly experienced a few years ago. Current glass technologies shelter from damaging ultraviolet rays and provide a clear and pleasant experience to that space.
In the interior setting, glass has become more predominant as an alternative to furniture, room dividers and other uses. The use of laminates, frits and other “smart” films in the core and surface of the glass have made it possible to record a third generation family portrait at your company lobby. You can program a private custom pattern with your logo that at the flip of a switch obscures the outside view from the conference room where you’re having your annual board meeting. Glass also is a revolutionary structural component used as columns, walls, stairs and roof systems. The Apple store on Fifth Avenue, New York, displays a glass cube portal with descending spiral glass stairs into a basement, where the polished products are displayed in a museum fashion. The glass there has reached a sculptural degree and a structural achievement.
The commercial use of glass has increased tremendously, contrary to the slow-paced residential uses. This is mainly due to the upfront costs that make it difficult to justify the value as a homeowner or developer. I hope we can reach a point where the positive use of technologies in glass and other industries will be attainable by all, so we can have more beautiful, safer and eco-friendly buildings that are meant to last for more than one generation. Art and science have come together well in this Broadway play called architecture. We ought to be proactive in the conscious nature of the direction we’re heading, and engage our community and colleagues to deliver extraordinary results.
What is clear and present is that in the design world we should play a musical instrument or a sport, dance, paint, travel and most of all explore possibilities with conviction and originality.