|Pantheon 128 AD|
|The Prophet Daniel|
The next surge in the use of glass came about in the seventeenth century, this time ushered in by technology rather than art. The invention of translucent plate glass ushered in new opportunities to harness the power of the sun and to control the environment. Botanical societies and wealthy individuals began to build greenhouses. Glass technology combined with advances in iron and the principle of interchangeable parts to allow the advent of this new building type.
Traditional architects came to understand the advantages offered with this material, but it was the modern architects that really embraced it and pushed the technology forward. An interesting example of this is the comparison of two early skyscraper designs in 1922. Howells and Hood designed a heavy neo-gothic tower. They made use of many windows, though as punched windows their impact was secondary to the mass, frame, and buttresses. The geometric building, like the classic column, contained a pronounced base, column, and capital. Meis' organic glass skyscraper, proposed for Berlin, was quite different. The skin of the building was nothing but glass. The concept of the curtain wall was evident. The glass was not inserted into openings in the facade, it was the facade, hanging like curtains on the floor plates. Light was allowed deep into the interior of the space and the views were expansive.
|Chicago Tribune Building|
John Mean Howell and Raymond Hood
Ludwig Meis Van der Rohe
Both prototypes were further developed by succeeding architects. Glass technology has continued to evolve and improve. Glass has remained a primary material throughout the remainder of the twentieth century and remains so today. We'll continue our exploration of this translucent and transparent building component in the next post ...... Magical Material.