25 Glass Houses, Domes, and Other Incredible Glass Constructions Around the World
There are many reasons why architects might choose to work with glass over other materials. One of the biggest draws of working with glass is the utilization of natural light, creating bright, airy spaces with a modern appeal.
Below are just some beautiful examples of houses, domes, buildings, and more that used glass to stunning effect.
1. Stahl House: Hollywood's Famous Glass-Walled House
Best known for appearing in a number of Hollywood films, the Stahl House was built in 1959 and designed by architect Pierre Koenig. Often referred to as Case Study House #22, the building became a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1999.
Today, the house is considered as a masterpiece of modernist architecture, thanks to the panoramic views afforded by its floor-to-ceiling windows.
2. The Louvre Pyramid: A Parisian Landmark
Designed by architect I.M. Pei under commission from French President, François Mitterrand, the iconic pyramid that marks the entrance of the Louvre was unveiled in 1989.
The controversial structure was introduced to better accommodate the growing numbers of visitors at the museum, though many spectators were less than pleased by the juxtaposition of the modern pyramid against the original building, to begin with. Urban legends circulated that the pyramid contained 666 panes of glass when in reality it's constructed of a far less sinister number - 689.
3. Al Dar Headquarters, Abu Dhabi: The First Circular Building in the Middle East
Built in 2010, the Al Dar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi was the first building of its kind in the Middle East. It was designed by MZ Architects and features a convex glass exterior.
It is made of recyclable materials and is among the first sustainable buildings in the United Arab Emirates.
4. The Sage Gateshead, UK: Three Auditoria Behind Glass
Designed in 1997 by Foster and Partners, the Sage Gateshead in Newcastle, England houses three separate auditoria for concerts and other live performances. It was opened to the public in 2004.
Its waved steel and glass shell is comprised of 280 glass panels and covers six separate structures.
5. The Botanical Garden of Curitiba, Brazil: Inspired by 19th Century British Design
Built in 1991, the Botanical Garden of Curitiba modeled itself after classical French gardens. Its eye-catching greenhouse was inspired by London's Crystal Palace, a plate-glass structure from the 19th Century.
Though the greenhouse measures a mere 4,800 square feet (450 square meters) its Art Nouveau design has been attracting tourists for over twenty years.
6. The IAC Building, New York: Frank Gehry's First NYC Building
Located in Manhattan's buzzing Chelsea neighborhood, the IAC Building was designed by architect Frank Gehry - his first to be built in New York City. Gehry is world-renowned for his use of glass in his designs.
Completed in 2007, the design intended to allow workers to feel as though there were in an open atmosphere that would encourage collaboration.
7. The Seattle Central Library, USA: A Book-Worm Tourist Attraction
Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, the imposing Seattle Central Library officially opened in 2004. The library can hold as many as 1.4 million books, and in the library's first year alone 2.3 million people came to visit the modern building - 30% of whom had traveled from outside of Seattle.
The library has gone on to win many awards and accolades for its bold glass and steel design.
8. The Shard, London: Britain's Tallest Building
Formerly known as the London Bridge Tower, The Shard has become a London landmark since its unveiling in 2012. The 1,016 foot (309.7 meters) skyscraper was designed by Italian architect, Renzo Piano, and is currently the tallest building in both the UK and the EU.
Piano worked angled panes of glass into his design to catch the rays of the sun. The building features apartments, offices, restaurants, and a hotel.
9. Basque Health Department HQ, Spain: Different Views from Each Pane
Located in the Basque Country's Bilbao, the Basque Health Department Headquarters was designed by architect Juan Coll-Barreu. Built in 2004, its large, slanted glass panes offer a variety of views of the city.
10. Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision: One of the Biggest Audiovisual Archives in Europe
Built in 2006, the Netherlands Insitute for Sound and Vision is home to the bulk of the country's audiovisual outputs, stretching back as far as the late 19th Century. The building itself was designed by architects Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk.
The building is most notable for its colorful glass cladding. Each pane features famous images from Dutch television.
11. Philip Johnson Glass House, USA: Inspired by Farnsworth House
Inspired by the Farnsworth House, Philip Johnson's Glass House in Connecticut, USA was built in 1949. It was Johnson's weekend home for 58 years.
The open-plan glass-walled house featured a kitchen, dining, and sleeping area.
12. 30 St. Mary Axe: London's Neo-Futurist Landmark
Affectionately referred to as "the Gherkin" by Londoners, 30 St. Mary Axe was built in 2003. Designed by Foster and Partners, the glass and steel building is considered a fine example of Neo-Futurist architecture.
The 41-storey skyscraper consumes half the energy other buildings of its size would, thanks to the double-glazed glass and strategic shafts which allow light and air to circulate.
13. Dancing House, Czech Republic: An Architectural Homage to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
Built in 1996, the Dancing House (also known as Fred and Ginger) was designed in a collaboration between Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry. Because of the way the two parts of the building appear to lean into one another like dancers, Gehry coined the nickname Fred and Ginger for the structure.
The building features a restaurant and a gallery, as well as stunning 360-degree views of Prague.
14. Philharmonic Hall, Szczecin, Poland: Classical Design With a Modern Twist
Inspired by church steeples and neo-classical architecture, the Philharmonic Hall of Szczecin, Poland puts a modern twist on a classic design with its frosted glass exterior. Designed by Fabrizio Barozzi and Agnieszka Samsel, it was the 2015 winner of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture.
15. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, USA: Protecting Art from Ultraviolet Rays
Designed by Steven Holl in 1999, the Bloch Building of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri was a controversial addition to the 1930s museum.
The Bloch Building features a series of glass "lenses", which allow light to pass down into the underground exhibition spaces below. The advanced glass technology of the lenses protects the artworks from any harmful UV rays.
16. Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, China: The World's Longest Glass-Bottom Bridge
Spanning a valley in China's Hunan province, the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge opened in 2016. To date, it is the longest and highest glass-bottom bridge in the world; measuring 1,410 feet long(430 meters), and raised 853 feet (260 meters) above ground.
The bridge was designed by Haim Dotan, and consists of 120 glass panels.
17. Christ Cathedral, California: A Glass Place of Worship
Originally known as the Crystal Cathedral, Christ Cathedral in Orange County, California, first opened in 1981. Designed by Philip Johnson, the cathedral was considered as the largest glass building in the world upon opening.
It can hold a congregation of up to 3,000 people, and its glass panes are not bolted but glued to the building's frame.
18. Farnsworth House, USA: A Protected Landmark in Illinois
Built for Dr. Edith Farnsworth between 1945 and 1951, the Farnsworth House was to be a weekend retreat where the doctor could enjoy nature. It was designed by Miles van der Rohe, and has had a lasting impact on modern architecture.
The house was named a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and features bold floor-to-ceiling windows.
19. Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris: Inspired by the Grand Palais
The Fondation Louis Vuitton opened in 2014 and was designed by Frank Gehry. Gehry was inspired by the glass Grand Palais and other French glass structures from the late 19th Century.
The building houses eleven separate galleries and a 350-seat auditorium.
20. The City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia, Spain: One of the Twelve Treasures of Spain
Inaugurated in 1998, the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain was part of the Twelve Treasures of Spain initiative to build a series of monuments across the country. The city comprises of several buildings, all of which house different sites of interest.
They include a science museum, a plaza for concerts and sporting events, an aquarium, and an opera theatre.
21. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore: Two Domes With Different Climates
Singapore's Gardens by the Bay features two stunning glass domes - the Flower Dome, and the Cloud Forest. Though they may look alike from the outside, they house different climates.
The Flower Dome replicates mild, dry climates for the plants housed within it. Meanwhile, the Cloud Forest replicates a cool, moist climate.
22. Chihuly Garden and Glass, USA: An Homage to the Artistry of Glass
Located in the Seattle Center, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibition space showcasing the glassworks of artist Dale Chihuly. It comprises of a garden, glasshouse, and exhibition area.
23. National Centre for Performing Arts, Beijing: Designed to Look Like Water
Designed by Paul Andreu, this titanium and glass building is home to China's National Centre for Performing Arts. The glass dome is located beside a man-made lake and was designed to look like a water droplet.
It consists of a theater hall, opera hall, and concert hall.
24. The Climatron, USA: One of America's Most Significant Architectural Achievements
Located in the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Climatron is a geodesic greenhouse designed by T.C. Howard. It was opened in 1961 and was named one of the 100 most significant achievements in American architectural history in 1976.
It's built from 2,425 panes of heat-strengthened glass, held aloft by a series of aluminum rods.
25. The Reichstag Dome, Berlin: One of Germany's Most Popular Attractions
Built to symbolize the reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall, the Reichstag Dome has become a popular landmark in Germany's capital. It was designed by Norman Foster and offers incredible 360-degree views of the city.