Once upon a time, New York City condominium and co-op properties—like the majority of residences in this vast metropolis—were mostly constructed from terra cotta, brick, brownstome, limestone—earthy materials, if you may. Glass was mainly utilized in windows and skylights. But the thing about times is, they change, and as such, glass and steel have since been incorporated more liberally among the stones and marbles of facades, until glass eventually emerged triumphant, becoming more norm than exception in new residential development.
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.
“While we cannot ascertain that glass has overtaken other building materials, 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,” says Steven Jayson, owner of architectural glass manufacturer Bendheim, with offices in lower Manhattan and Passaic, New Jersey. Jayson adds 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.”
The aforementioned options include etched patterns, textures, decorative interlayers, colors and more. One glass type can be laminated with another for strength, or to create a completely new aesthetic. “[Glass] can be combined with a decorative interlayer such as fabric or wooden veneers,” says Jayson. “It can be insulated, tempered, bent, color-coated in a standard or custom shade, or acid-etched with a decorative pattern. There are hardly any limitations to customizing architectural glass. Thermal performance coatings such as channel glass Low-E, azure, and bronze coatings are interesting because they simultaneously provide energy efficiency and attractive visual effects.”