Creative architecture and smart engineering solutions are a match made in builders’ heaven. Case in point? Glass facades perfectly showcase how architecture and engineering can come together to create monumental and inspiring buildings.
With an infinite combination of colors, thickness, and opacity, glass provides spectacular design potential. Here, we’ve gathered some of the most stunning, unique, and iconic glass facades from across the globe.
1. Harpa Concert Hall
Location: Reykjavik, Iceland
- Inspired by nature and designed by Henning Larsen Architects, the geometric glass facade of the Harpa Concert Hall reflects the characteristics of the area’s local basalt formations.
- Made of glass and steel in a 12-sided space-filling geometric modular system called the “quasi-brick,” the building appears a kaleidoscopic play of colors, reflected in the more than 1,000 quasi-bricks composing the southern facade.
2. One World Trade Center
Location: New York City, United States
- One World Trade Center was the first skyscraper to use insulated glass that spans the full floor-to-floor height of each story without using intermediate mullions or connecting bars.
- Due to its extreme height (1,776 feet), the glass units can withstand large wind loadings — a strict safety measure required for all supertall buildings.
- The curtain wall was manufactured and assembled by Benson Industries in Portland, Oregon using glass made in Minnesota by Viracon.
3. Federation Square
Location: Melbourne, Australia
- Federation Square’s unique structural form — designed by Lab Architecture Studio — supports the distinctive tectonic geometry of the glass facade. The cladding materials (sandstone, zinc, and glass) were incorporated within a triangular pinwheel grid.
- The distinctive facade was inspired by fractals: complex patterns that are similar both on a smaller scale and when viewed as a whole.
4. The Crystal
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
- Resting only on a single point, this versatile building floats above the bustling city of Copenhagen. The building’s striking glass facade is supported from within by a rhombic construction system.
- Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen, The Crystal utilizes a triple-layered inner glass facade for thermal insulation and features integrated sunscreen that allows the building to adapt to altering light conditions.
5. Seocho Garak Tower East
Location: Seoul, South Korea
- The glass facade of Garak Tower is designed with a wave motion effect, adding complexity to the nature of the cladding system.
- ArchitectenConsort, the architect responsible for the project, was inspired by the form and flow of traditional Korean poetry.
- At night, the entire glass façade is illuminated by thousands of LED lights that change in color and create various patterns across the facade.
6. The Shard
Location: London, England
- Renzo Piano — the Italian architect behind Centre Georges Pompidou and the Whitney Museum of American Art — designed the structure.
- At 1,016 feet, the Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe. The building has blue glass cladding, which was designed to reflect the sky, clouds, and sunlight.
- The Shard was erected using the world’s first top-down construction technique: the first 23 stories of this 72-story concrete core building were built before the basement had been fully excavated.