Posted on August 15, 2017
From the Summer 2017 edition of Art & Home, Iyna Bort Caruso takes us through the looking glass and into a world of homes that feature captivating glass structures.
For the last 16 years, Thomas Roszak has lived with his family in a glass home of his own design, and he’s already thinking of his next one. “I don’t see any other way to live.”
Roszak, a Chicago, Illinois-based architect, built his see-through home in the suburbs on an acre of land screened by 60 to 80-foot maples, oaks and honeylocusts to block the sun–and block prying eyes. It was his dream house, combining his ideas about how space flows from one room to the next and the changing play of light. At times the home is transparent, other times it is reflective, mirroring the environment and creating a habitat where the outside and inside become one.
Glass walls frame scenery like a mural. The more dramatic the backdrop, the greater the role glass plays as a design element. Mike Shapiro, chairman of HÔM Sotheby’s International Realty in Newport Beach, California, says, “Homeowners here spend millions for the view, so the more glass the happier they are.”
Glass brings homeowners into nature with an aesthetic that fits in perfectly with the simplicity of modern design. Light, airiness and a sense of abundance are at the very essence of contemporary architecture.
Glass buildings are modern, but they’re not new. Today’s generation pay homage to icons like the Glass House by Philip Johnson built in 1949 in Canaan, Connecticut, and the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, completed in 1951 by Mies van der Rohe. Both are now operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and look as fresh and relevant as the day they were built.
The difference is that today’s glass structures are no longer plagued by the problems of earlier models such as condensation, leakage and energy waste. They don’t suffer heat loss in winter or heat gain in summer. Glass homes are now high performance structures. Thanks to advancements, glass is also being incorporated into residences in inventive new ways. Shapiro has seen a surge in glass used in interior bridges, flooring surfaces and negative edge pool walls. “The technology is extraordinary,” he says.
Glass homes as architectural curiosities are a thing of the past. “When we first moved in nobody on our street liked the house,” recalls Roszak. “Now 15 years later, everybody loves it. They talk about how they live on the road that has the glass house, so now they kind of made it their own.” Roszak says it’s about education. “People don’t understand modern houses until they see them on the timeline of architectural history. As technology advances, aesthetics advance. Art and architecture should always look forward.”