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Glass Block is Terrible

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La mort aux blocs de verre! (Death to glass blocks!)

Bob Borson

 

I would be happy if glass blocks were never used again. I have always hated them, everywhere, every time, every circumstance, forever and ever in perpetuity.

 

Person I don’t know: “Howdy, sure is nice weather we’re having ain’t it?”

 

Me: “Glass blocks are terrible and should never be used again”

 

I blame architect Pierre Charreau and Maison de Verre by  for starting this fascination with glass block. Maison de Verre (House of Glass) was built in 1932 and was constructed in the early modern style. (I wrote a post of the working man’s rules of modernism here). Maison de Verre stressed honesty of materials, adoption  of the machine aesthetic, express the structure of the building, and rejection of ornamentation. This is actually a really great house and a case study of early modernism. This project warrants attention now for many reasons, most notably could be that it is a urban adaptive re-use and renovation of an existing building. The patron owner had wanted to tear the entire building down but the tenant on the top floor refused to sell so Maison de Verre had to be built underneath the top floor.

 

This is a great project and if glass blocks had never been used again, I would probably still like them. The French invented glass blocks in the early 1900′s and sometime around the 1930′s developments in machine production  made a project like Maison de Verre possible. Maybe if you’re French you know how to design with them, otherwise I challenge anyone to show me a project where the use of glass blocks actually improved the architecture where no other building material could have worked with far better results.

 

So why would someone want to use glass block? It is typically used for creating some sort of visual screen (like glaucoma) between spaces to provide privacy while allowing light to pass through. That description sounds like a window to me, so let’s look at some visual examples of the variety of uses for glass block.....

 

http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/la-mort-aux-blocs-de-verre-death-to-glass-blocks/

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I like the light that comes thru my basement glass block windows & shines on the floors & walls. It's especially nice when the sun is shining through the trees on breezy days.

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^ Yeah, as an architectural feature, I'd agree, but for your average residence with a basement or wherever security may be an issue, they make a lot of sense.

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^ Yeah, as an architectural feature, I'd agree, but for your average residence with a basement or wherever security may be an issue, they make a lot of sense.

 

Until there's an emergency. You're trapped in the basement by fire, angry gangmemebers or vicious dogs.... and the glass block seals your doom.

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I always keep my bills current with the bikers and, living between 2 good size cemeteries, come the zombie apocalypse, I'm gonna be pretty much toast anyway.

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^ Yeah, as an architectural feature, I'd agree, but for your average residence with a basement or wherever security may be an issue, they make a lot of sense.

 

Until there's an emergency. You're trapped in the basement by fire, angry gangmemebers or vicious dogs.... and the glass block seals your doom.

 

Ha.  That's what your basement door or cellarway is for!

 

I tend to agree that glass block (with venting) is perfect for basement windows, provided that they are not on the facade of your house.  No one notices them if they're on the sides or back, but they look awful on the front of your house.

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I have a wall between the dining room and the den that is probably 60% glass block (the whole center is GB, and is framed with regular drywall....which, incidentally, when we bought the house, had beige fabric wallpaper on it. It was like living inside a carpeted womb. So luxurious)

 

Anyway, we've re-done most of the house, but we elected to keep the glass block. One, because it lets in the light from the dining room, which has a picture window in it, and B) I didn't want to be bothered with knocking it out, only to replace it with a more traditional opaque wall. Also, III) I didn't want to take the wall out completely because I hate open floor plans. I like my rooms to have walls. I don't want to be a part of whatever nonsense is going on in the other room. If I'm in the den while everyone else is in the dining room, its because I don't like you.

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^ I want to see a picture of this. Make sure that you tell the wife it's for the weirdos on the internet. Is it a contemporary house?

 

The only glass block we have is an interior wind in our shower by what ever DIY'er remodeled the bathroom in the 50s or 60s

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^ I want to see a picture of this. Make sure that you tell the wife it's for the weirdos on the internet. Is it a contemporary house?

 

The only glass block we have is an interior wind in our shower by what ever DIY'er remodeled the bathroom in the 50s or 60s

 

Definintely not a modern aesthetic when we bought it. Although depending on when it was installed they may have tried for something 'modern-ish'. As we've redecorated each room we've had to extract multiple layers of questionable wallpaper choices. I won't get into the metallic floral print wallpaper in the master bath we uncovered. OY!

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^ I want to see a picture of this. Make sure that you tell the wife it's for the weirdos on the internet. Is it a contemporary house?

 

The only glass block we have is an interior wind in our shower by what ever DIY'er remodeled the bathroom in the 50s or 60s

 

Definintely not a modern aesthetic when we bought it. Although depending on when it was installed they may have tried for something 'modern-ish'. As we've redecorated each room we've had to extract multiple layers of questionable wallpaper choices. I won't get into the metallic floral print wallpaper in the master bath we uncovered. OY!

 

Interesting. Here's the question: was the glass block chosen in conjunction with the wallpaper? Or was the glass block like an insidious gateway drug, that spurned the homeowners to make increasingly bad choices?

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^ I want to see a picture of this. Make sure that you tell the wife it's for the weirdos on the internet. Is it a contemporary house?

 

The only glass block we have is an interior wind in our shower by what ever DIY'er remodeled the bathroom in the 50s or 60s

 

Definintely not a modern aesthetic when we bought it. Although depending on when it was installed they may have tried for something 'modern-ish'. As we've redecorated each room we've had to extract multiple layers of questionable wallpaper choices. I won't get into the metallic floral print wallpaper in the master bath we uncovered. OY!

 

Interesting. Here's the question: was the glass block chosen in conjunction with the wallpaper? Or was the glass block like an insidious gateway drug, that spurned the homeowners to make increasingly bad choices?

 

Pure speculation on my part, but I think the wallpaper spurred the glass block. At some point, one of the owners put on a very modest extension to the house, building out the kitchen and the den by about 3 feet. My research through wallpaper excavation indicates that the metallic wallpaper was the first of three, leading me to believe it was the original design choice when the house was built in 1973.

 

So, I'm guessing that the owners around 1980-81, while sipping some Bartles & James, and listening to the Styx Mr. Roboto album, decided to make some renovations, resulting in the above referenced decor.

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So, I'm guessing that the owners around 1980-81, while sipping some Bartles & James, and listening to the Styx Mr. Roboto album, decided to make some renovations, resulting in the above referenced decor.

 

This paints the picture quite vividly!!!

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well, I guess glass block is terrible if it's part of something like this. This hideous entrance is part of what was probably at one time a beautiful Italianate building in the East Village (The only way to determine the style is to look at the top, since the window ornamentation--or whatever it's called--was replaced by a plain looking strip of stone...or cement). I'm sure the landlord thought this would make it look sort of cool and modern--

14701385710_4e99aed3ca_c.jpg

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A few people here might remember the strobe lights behind the glass blocks at the Super Saver Cinemas 8 in Forest Fair Mall, which according to urban legend caused seizures, and according to part 2 of the same urban legend, caused the mall to quickly remove about 75% of the glass blocks and strobes.  I can sort-of verify that account, but my memory is pretty foggy, since I only remember seeing Home Alone there right when the theater opened in its original incarnation.   

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A few people here might remember the strobe lights behind the glass blocks at the Super Saver Cinemas 8 in Forest Fair Mall, which according to urban legend caused seizures, and according to part 2 of the same urban legend, caused the mall to quickly remove about 75% of the glass blocks and strobes.  I can sort-of verify that account, but my memory is pretty foggy, since I only remember seeing Home Alone there right when the theater opened in its original incarnation.   

 

Seems to me that was around a pretty long time. Like after the mall had pretty much died (aside from the theater and arcade). Can't say for sure, though. But I do remember what you're talking about, vividly. I went there many times. Probably saw Home Alone there, haha.

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A few people here might remember the strobe lights behind the glass blocks at the Super Saver Cinemas 8 in Forest Fair Mall, which according to urban legend caused seizures, and according to part 2 of the same urban legend, caused the mall to quickly remove about 75% of the glass blocks and strobes.  I can sort-of verify that account, but my memory is pretty foggy, since I only remember seeing Home Alone there right when the theater opened in its original incarnation.   

 

Seems to me that was around a pretty long time. Like after the mall had pretty much died (aside from the theater and arcade). Can't say for sure, though. But I do remember what you're talking about, vividly. I went there many times. Probably saw Home Alone there, haha.

 

Does anyone have a graph showing how the Mall was fine, earning substantial revenues....only to dip dramatically once the glass block was installed?

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This made me think of that house in Cleveland Heights

 

http://www.spotproperty.com/2424-stratford-rd-cleveland-heights-oh-44118-831283263

 

Ouch. This house looks like an urban transformer station, sans electricity.

 

The house has a sign out front that says coming soon for sale.  I swear - this house has changed hands like 3 times over the past 5 years.

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I love the crowd of people rushing to get inside of a seedy-looking, poorly-lit corner bar.  Maybe it's a decent bar, but come on.

 

It's actually lit with neon lights at night, and it looks really cool in person.

 

57841516_5a6b7538ac_z.jpg

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