Art of Glass

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Art of Glass

Silje Norbye

October 26, 2021
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Contemporary and transitional architecture display brilliant glass designs that invite our breathtaking desert landscape inside to create a beautiful symphony connecting architecture to the natural terrain.  The grandeur architectural masterpieces that we build in and around Paradise Valley utilize glass as an art form in windows, walls, doors, ceilings, and staircases to name a few. It elevates our homes to take advantage of natural lighting, reflections, and surrounding views ultimately changing the feeling in a room from morning to evening. As we watch the extensive use of glass in architecture and interior design, we ask ourselves how this simple material has become one of the most prominent building materials in our homes.

The technology of glass has matured tremendously over the centuries from the magnificent stained glass in medieval cathedrals to modern-day floor-to-ceiling windows and all glass high-rises. Today we are presented with incredible smart windows designed to block UV lighting and reduce energy consumption by preventing sunlight to come inside which in turn reduces our need to run our AC. One of the glass technologies standard to BedBrock homes is the use of Starphire glass in showers and wine rooms. We were looking for a solution that would not visually distort the spectacular colors of wine in your wine collection or the tile finishes in your shower. Most glass presented to us had a light green hue to them slightly altering the colors of objects behind it. After testing and research, we found the ultimate blank slate clear glass that beautifully frames the design behind it without discoloration. This example proves the progression of glass and how far we have come in detailing and utilization of the high-demand material.

The modernist style blossomed in the early 1900’s representing not only a new architectural style but a new way of thinking that emphasized function to provide specific needs. As new technologies emerged, our intelligence erupted to challenge traditional design and create original shapes that were structurally genius. One of the forefathers of these ideas was Frank Lloyd Wright. As one of America and the Midwest’s greatest architects, he drew homes in a unique fashion with an idea to design homes as if they were a product if their environment. Natural lighting was a crucial element to his designs and therefore, glass, became an essential material effectively used to welcome rays of sunlight into his homes. As an architect with great respect for materials, he didn’t use glass as a tool to look through something, they were designed to be an artistic expression. The iconic Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, designed by Philip Johnson erupted in later years of Frank Lloyd Wright’s life. He felt a “room is only as good as you feel when you’re in it”. Encapsulated in glass walls, this extraordinary building was one of the first to introduce the use of wall-to-ceiling windows opening the home to its surrounding landscape. Using glass to invite the sun allowed him to live in one with the solar system from early dawn to late night. He designed custom shades to manipulate the sunlight to his liking throughout the day.

Our principal architect Stratton Andrews utilized glass as a design component to frame the desert surroundings and create stunning exterior reflections of the landscape. Shade and shadow as well as light play an ever-present roll in our desert environment and glass allows us to capture or frame these delicate moments. Whether we use a narrow-slotted skylight to wash a rammed earth wall or frame a 150-year-old Saguaro with floor to ceiling glass, it is the glass that allows us to bring out the purest form of nature, colors, and the materials around us. Not only is glass an incredible material but its allure has become a symbol of progress for civilization. No longer are we dwelling in mud forms or dim old-world conditions, we now can live comfortably in harmony with our surrounding thanks to modern glass.