Glass Then and Now

Two recent articles in The New York Times caught my attention because of their focus on architecture and the glass used in it.

Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs corporate complex in Holmdel, N.J.
Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs corporate complex, Holmdel, N.J.

The “Then” article subject was the sale of the Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs corporate complex in Holmdel, N.J., which occupies a 473-acre site.

The article explains, “A decade ago, as many as 6,500 people worked in the low-slung complex, whose pioneering mirrored-glass façade reflects a gleaming three-legged water tower that looks like a giant Bell Laboratories transistor….”

Today, it is empty and the article points out will be either one of the most challenging fixer-uppers in the history of modern architecture or one of the most significant tear-downs.

Designed by Eero Saarinen, the modern structure features atria and other innovations reflecting its 1957 design. Alas, large corporate campuses and their glass-enclosed structures are a relic in today’s smaller, leaner organizations.

The “Now” article subject was the building boomlet of name-brand design structures which are being planned or built in Manhattan.

In a real-estate climate that has screeched to a halt, residential towers continue to be built in New York City’s most desirable borough.

Spurred on by the attention drawn to such structures as Frankk Gehry’s Beekman Street Tower, Deborah Bereke’s 48 Bond and Bernard Tschumi’s Blue Building on the Lower East side, such bold designs as West 19th Street by Jean Nouvel and HL 23, West 23rd Street by Neil Denari are part of the ‘what architect designed your building’ game that the rich and famous are now playing with their residences.

Another thing all these structures have in common is their bold and intelligent use of architectural glass and metal. Clean, attractive design is the goal and today’s architectural glass and metal products are the key to achieving it.