Glass buildings are hip. The Sears Tower liked them so much, they added a terrifying all-glass terrace. Any new condo building that isn’t a converted warehouse is a column of uninterrupted glass.
Philip Johnson got things going with his Glass House. It looks incredible, and it’s a field-bending invention on the scale of making tennis rackets out of graphite. Architects now had the potential to leave behind bricks and mortar and wood and steel, sort of. But no one in their right mind would want to live in it, for practical reasons (so, insulation?) and, well, more practical reasons (howdy, neighbor).
But that hasn’t stopped today’s starchitects. Richard Meier – who has done his fair share of glass buildings – has put one in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. Walk by on your way to the library, or the park, or wherever, and you’ll likely catch a glimpse of someone doing something in their apartment – something you probably don’t want to see (on a not unrelated note, a legally minded friend informs us that being naked in the home in view of passers-by would not be illegal; fornicating, or the like, in the window would be of questionable legality, as it would be in a car. Lawyers, please weigh in).
But one thinks that the glass-ward trend won’t be a lasting one. It has its benefits in an office tower, where sunlight trumps insulation. But apartment-dwellers don’t have the luxury of only needing the space from 9-5. A Daily Dose of Architecture said it better in discussing a new glass tower in Bangkok:
Is this the end of torqued, möbius and pickle towers? Will architects have a brief fling with shifting glass boxes before they move onto to the next high-rise transformation? I think the expense of these designs (more facade area as well as additional insulation and weatherproofing required on the terraces and soffits) makes them suitable only for super-rich condos and therefore short-lived.
He’s talking about a specific genre of the glass tower, one with shifted floors to create a disjointed glass facade. But it applies more generally to the glass tower, which when it comes to residential complexes, just doesn’t make sense.