Glass: Beyond the Obvious

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For windows, walls, and even stairs, glass plays a significant role in design. In the built environment, it is also an effective way to literally and symbolically underscore the cultural and organizational transparency that many of our clients nurture. Glass celebrates light, something innately understood by medieval architects in their use of stained glass, a fact not lost on Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Playing off the magic of stained glass, a two-story, multi-pane glass feature adds interest, color, and livens a stair and adjacent areas for this client.

Red Hat, Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography

Here, a wall of operable, vertical glass fins in a gradient of brand colors creates a feature wall as part of the redesigned stairwell. Fed from above by an added skylight, the play of light bathes the stair, pantry, and lounge areas, and filters through the colored fins, bringing a bright warmth to a communal hub. 

Confidential Client. Photo © Jasper Sanidad.

Fins, angled to catch the light from panoramic views, etched with geometric abstractions of cascading water, mimic the river below in the shift and twist of their placement and are both a design and an informational feature. Translucent video screens floating over the fins tell the client’s story.

Confidential Client. Photo Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick

Confidential Client. Photo Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick

Confidential Client. Photo Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick

Confidential Client. Photo Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick

Underlining a sense of place, film on glass displays the world of microbiotics, a significant aspect of this client’s work.

Western Institutional Review Board, Tacoma, WA. Photo © Sherman Takata

Western Institutional Review Board, Tacoma, WA. Photo © Sherman Takata

Here, film on glass reflects the project’s theme: a walk in the park that brings the outside in.

BlueCat Networks, Toronto, ON. Photo © Ben Rahn/A-Frame

A timeless classic, etched glass is a device we’ve used for years that continues to be an engaging and effective design element for different types of projects.

MGM Corporate Headquarters, Beverly Hills, CA. Photo © Eric Laignel

Bancolombia Headquarters, Medellín, Colombia. Photo © Eric Laignel

And, certainly, the recent popularity of writing on glass, cannot be overlooked.

Tresata, Charlotte, NC. Photo © Monica Slaney

Confidential Client. Photo © Jasper Sanidad




IA is a global firm of architects, designers, strategists, and specialists .We focus exclusively on environments through the lens of interior architecture—a radical idea in 1984, when IA was founded. We are highly connected agents of change, committed to creativity, innovation, growth, and community.




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