There was a time when the buildings being built in New York City were largely constructed of earthy materials—limestone, brownstone, brick, terra cotta—and glass really only figured into their design in the form of windows and skylights. As times and architectural fashions changed however, glass and steel gained a foothold among all the stone and marble, until gleaming glass facades became the norm rather than the exception—particularly in new residential development.
The Glass Age
Glass itself has come a very long way since it was just the stuff windows were made of. Today, its colors, tints, finishes, and treatments are nearly limitless—and it's strong enough to be a building material in its own right.
“We cannot ascertain that glass has overtaken other building materials,” says Steven Jayson, owner of architectural glass manufacturer S.A. Bendheim, Ltd., in Passaic, New Jersey. “But it's easy to see the unique benefits, such as daylighting and views, that glass can bring to areas dominated by tall buildings and skyscrapers.”
Jayson says that the evolution of the architectural glass industry can also be credited with the increased use of glass in buildings.
“These developments include the fact that the glass manufacturing process has been designed to conserve resources and allow for cost-effective production,” he says. “There’s also the development of energy-efficient glass products, including thermal coatings and insulated glass wall systems; and of course the incredible decorative glass options that can introduce a unique, customizable aesthetic.”