Nothing says modern quite like glass.
Maybe its the transparency and illusion of space it offers or its paradox of fragility and strength. It's smooth fetish-able surface. Taken altogether, they're qualities that make glass architecturally irresistible. Not to mention its sustainability and cost effectiveness when compared to other building materials. And not least: It's completely recyclable.
Maybe, as home dwellers we're a little dog-like; once inside we always crave to look out. We love our shelters but we don't want them to feel like a cages. Glass appeals to that.
Glass has origins going back to the ancient Rome. By the middle ages, stained glass was used to glorious artistic effect in churches, temples, etc; As architectural historian Arthur Korn said, stained glass allowed "a glimpse of paradise in luminous colors from the shadow of the grave."
The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century made glass practical for more than just window panes. In 1851 The Crystal Palace provided both the first extensive use of glass extensively as a construction material and presager for modernist architecture to follow. Created by conservatory designer and head gardener at Chatsworth House Joseph Paxton, the Palace also foreshadowed Modernist architecture. Originally built to stand in London's Hyde Park for The Great Exhibition (later renamed The World's Fair), the Palace, the project was also the first major installation to feature public (pay) toilets. Amazingly, three years later the Palace would be disassembled and relocated to suburban Sydenham Hall in South London. The Palace would eventually be destroyed by fire in 1936.
The Bauhaus, and most significantly Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, would begin a love affair with new Industrial Revolution materials that would feature glass in both architecture and furniture in a big way. As you see from the images posted here, it was an affair that still shows no signs of waning.
The quintessential Bauhaus campus building by Walter Gropius, 1926:
The Kluczynski Federal Building, Chicago, by Mies van der Rohe:
The iconic Glass House by Philip Johnson: According to its website, the structure "is best understood as a pavilion for viewing the surrounding landscape." the Wikipedia page calls it "an essay in minimum structure": Bauhaus by way of Japan.
Sadly, the house has fallen into a state of disrepair necessitating millions of dollars in repairs. Described in its present condition as a mold sponge, its various ailments include peeling tiles, crumbling fixtures, and damage from humidity. Frank Lloyd Wright may've said something once the falling apart being proof of its superior aesthetics but unfortunately I couldn't find any Google corroboration.
In any event, the Glass House helped usher in the International Style to America and influence much of what is posted here.
Natural light is a part of our biological need. Intuitively, we prefer daylight to electric light. It is a perfect white light. And it is, of course, plentiful. Marilyne Andersen, MIT Department of Architecture
Architect Arthur Erikson's Fire Island house:
A glass house in a forest in Thailand:
A school in Japan:
It's been said that a glass exterior can lead to a building’s forming a religious attachment with the environment.
Recent research has shown natural light not can not only have a positive effect on energy consumption but on human well being and productivity as well. Technological advances have made glass more efficient, sustainable, and practical than ever.
It appears glass is no less modern than it ever was.