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Glass Block is Terrible

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I noticed RTA used glass block for the windows in the platform indoor waiting area of the new Little Italy-Univ. Circle station ... Eeek! ... It's still a nicely-done station, though.

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They were definitely just using glass block for the sake of using glass block.

 

I'm confident glass blocks can be used tastefully with the right context, the right geometry along with that of neighboring materials but I just haven't really seen any examples of it (I don't think.) I think it would be really cool to see glass block used in a way that works well for a building. There has to be some cool buildings that have incorporated glass block, right?

 

You know what makes glass blocks look so horrible, forced and out of joint? They're manufactured squares, all of which have identical textures instead of irregular shapes that we appreciate in natural materials such as stone. The square shape itself is probably unnatural and just appears to be too forced, to be aesthetically pleasing. I can't think of any notable architecture wherein squares could be identified in its features.

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^ Thoughtful glass block analysis there David. Why is it that glass block's considered awful, but this looks cool.

 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/TeULAwbUZ1s/maxresdefault.jpg

 

One thing I don't like about glass block is that people use it as a window replacement in high-crime areas. Therefore when you see it, you can reason "I'm in an area with a crime problem."

 

Same thing with security screen doors. Or bars on windows. Or a "Keep Out" sign some people put on their houses lol.

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^ Thoughtful glass block analysis there David. Why is it that glass block's considered awful, but this looks cool.

 

Sometimes, I wonder if I'm John Ruskin re-incarnated. I spew all these random philosophical thoughts regarding architecture based on nothing but immediate observations and no formal education on it, lol.

 

The crime aspect also makes sense. I know I've predominantly seen them used in areas of high crime. Though, instead of thinking of glass blocks as an indicator of crime, it could also be viewed as comforting. Still, fear is a strong emotion.

 

I think glass overall is a beautiful material, if you think about it's usefulness and various applications. I'm pretty confident in thinking that the shape/texture of the glass blocks with disregard for the materials and shapes surrounding it, are more to blame for its ugliness than the use of the material itself.

 

This is a really interesting thread. Glass blocks have somehow managed to become a stain on modern architecture, starting with the art deco movement and we need to get to the bottom of it and fix this.

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Why is it that glass block's considered awful, but this looks cool.

 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/TeULAwbUZ1s/maxresdefault.jpg

 

 

That does look cool! But the glass isn't defiantly much more textured (yet uniform in their texture) against the very cohesive and smoothly flowing rhythm of the brick. The glass windows also aren't square shape, which I'm confident would just instantly ruin the building. I don't know what it is about squares but there's something to be said about how they ruin buildings.

 

There needs to be a sense of harmony between the materials and shapes of different elements in order for it to be aesthetically pleasing. The reason Gehry's architecture works is because even though you see a huge contrast between building materials, they all flow with each other. You won't ever get that in buildings like the ones mentioned in this thread that have materials fundamentally different in their rigid patterns.

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Probably because you have to break brick at the ends. They could make half blocks for the ends.

 

Ah yes.  But they could just use 2x glass blocks and keep the familiar cubes for the end. 

 

Or maybe a staggered glass block wall looks even worse.  I can't say for sure because I've never seen one. 

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Glass blocks have somehow managed to become a stain on modern architecture, starting with the art deco movement and we need to get to the bottom of it and fix this.

 

And there was probably no better example of glass block gone wild than the long gone art deco Lake Theater in Painesville, which featured two tiered cakes of glass block flanking the entrance. By day they seemed to serve no purpose even as decorative objects, but blazed with light at night. This picture was probably taken about the same time the theater opened, since the movie on the marquee dates from the same year, 1939. But to this day I honestly don't think I've seen another example of glass block used in quite the same way. Too bad it was demolished.

 

37705582734_4dc3fbfb86_o.gif

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You will have noticed the glass blocks inserted into one of the risers of the Federal Reserve Bank's front steps?  They are removable from the inside and the holes become machine gun ports. When the Fed was designed, civil insurrection was a real worry.  This could become a new design feature for worried householders. 

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On 12/13/2018 at 10:28 AM, Toddguy said:

I must be one of the only people who really like glass block when it is done right.

 

I think there's a large contingent of people who would feel the same way, but glass block is very rarely done right so they never see it!

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Found another example of "glass block done right." The Jambreiro House by Marcos Franchini + Flávia Lutkenhaus, located in Brazil. It seems that most examples are residential and smaller in scale. 

 

image.thumb.png.9bf78b732865505aace573564e616cb6.png

image.thumb.png.49834d8555baafaa5fa8eee123c0a4d4.png

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19 hours ago, 327 said:

Either have windows or don't.

 

It's not that black and white, though... What if you want an abundance of natural light, but still want privacy? What if you want something more cost-effective? What if you are unable to find a laborer skilled in window installs, but can lay brick/block? These are all good reasons to choose glass block. 

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My neighbor recently installed glass block on his basement windows. All I can think about is there being a fire and he's trapped in the basement because his windows no longer open. And the last thing he ever sees before succumbing to smoke inhalation is glass block.  

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1 hour ago, surfohio said:

My neighbor recently installed glass block on his basement windows. All I can think about is there being a fire and he's trapped in the basement because his windows no longer open. And the last thing he ever sees before succumbing to smoke inhalation is glass block.  

 

If there is a bedroom in the basement, by code there must be a legal means of egress from the bedroom. If not, I'm sure the smoke alarms would give adequate time to egress through the stairs.

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CokeBottling.jpg

 

I haven't seen the Xavier Physical Plant building (former Coca Cola Bottling plant) on this thread yet. It has awesome glass block and limestone, especially the curved glass block around the top of the rotunda. 

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I was in Tokyo last week and made a point to swing by Renzo Piano's glass block clad Maison Hermès:

 

IMG_0850.jpg

 

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IMG_0869.jpg

Edited by Ram23
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^ Going OT here but, looking at the interior shots, the overall layout of that place is a disaster. I’ve never seen 4K+ sq feet be made to look so small. Way too many bedrooms in that space.  


And they reckon that the last thing she saw in her life was
Sting, singing on the roof of the Barbican

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2 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

Even the detached garage is ugly.  This person must be in sales. 

 

Or a friend of yours......  Please tell me you know this person or have a story about this person!  LOL

 

200.gif

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17 hours ago, roman totale XVII said:

^ Going OT here but, looking at the interior shots, the overall layout of that place is a disaster. I’ve never seen 4K+ sq feet be made to look so small. Way too many bedrooms in that space.  

Yeah but it being built in 1946 might explain that-much smaller bedroom sizes then. If they cleared up the circulation/reduced the number of bedrooms, I would kind of like it. i have to admit i don't mind the front of the house and the interior entry. The garage does look plain as hell though.

Edited by Toddguy

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On 9/15/2015 at 11:17 PM, jmecklenborg said:

GAH!  This horrible home is located about a 1/2 mile from where I spent a few of my formative years, on the site of a former wasp-infested school bus junk yard that I discovered in the woods at the tender age of 10 or 11.  This dump looks like a circa-1981 Howard Johnson, but was built around 2005.  No doubt by some former pro athlete or a "successful" small business owner. 

 

glassblock1_zpszsudih0k.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four and a half years after this thing got listed, it's still on the market...

https://www.zillow.com/homes/7601-sheed-road,-white-oak-oh_rb/34303548_zpid/

 

They're now into the 6-figure asking range, nearly halving their initial asking price of $1.6m.

 


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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