Wednesday, September 26

6:30–8:00 PM

Welcoming Remarks and Introduction

Mark Wigley
Dean, GSAPP, Columbia University

Welcoming Remarks from Oldcastle Glass

Keynote Lecture
Kazuyo Sejima
Architect, SANAA, Tokyo

Thursday, September 27

10:00–10:30 AM


Mark Wigley
Dean, GSAPP, Columbia University

Michael Bell
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

Christian Meyer
Chair and Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University

Bernhard Weller
Director and Professor, Institute of Building Construction, Techische Universität Dresden

10:30 AM–12:00 PM

Is Glass Still Glass?

Moderator: Michael Bell
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

In its early 20th-century appearances, glass architecture—in designs by Walter Gropius or Mies van der Rohe, or writings by Paul Scheerbart—was both fact and metaphor. A signal of cultural and material production in major upheaval, it promised a new if not radically altered interior world and a new relation to production.

Does glass architecture still signify cultural transition; do the depth of engineering and the control of risk in new work reduce or enlarge the cultural project of glass today? Is glass still glass?

Typically associated with either the architectural innovations of the 1920s or the recent technical and decidedly global innovations tied to energy issues, new coatings, and new adhesion techniques, glass architecture has—like many aspects of high-end, capital-intensive building products—ceased to be as anything less than inevitable. New work in architecture and engineering is by now seemingly expected to conflate aesthetic aims with engineering goals.

Has the very understanding of glass changed from a politically radical material to a financially conventional building product?

Roberto Bicchiarelli
Executive Vice President, Permasteelisa Cladding Technologies, LP

Laurie Hawkinson
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

Reinhold Martin
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

Detlef Mertins
Professor and Chair, Department of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

12:00–1:30 PM


1:30–3:00 PM

Connections: Visual and Mechanical

Moderator: Kenneth Frampton
Ware Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

Evolutions in the fabrication of glass and its mechanical components—framing systems, gaskets, adhesives, sealants, as well as assembly procedures and potentials— have re-written the curtain wall and its application in building. In the course of doing so there has been a steadily revised but open-ended discussion about the cultural aspects of the transparent building. What are the new connections in glass architecture—both visual and mechanical—that have allowed this new reach for architecture and how do they affect your work?

James Carpenter
Architect, James Carpenter Design Associates, New York City

Guy Nordenson
Professor of Structural Engineering, School of Architecture, Princeton University

François Roche
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University
Architect, R&Sie(n), Paris

Hans Schober
Engineer, Shlaich Bergermann and Partner, Stuttgart

3:15–5:00 PM

Glass at the Limits

Moderator: Antoine Picon
Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

In an era of ubiquitous and inexpensive global communications and increasingly expensive energy costs, what are the critical implications for glass in building over the next decade? Will energy issues force a major change in transparent architecture?

Have concepts of transparency, so fully embedded in architectural theory and history, been dislocated to new modes of transparency? Have newly mobilized forms of mathematics unlocked programs of information transparency, self-generated and navigated forms of media, new forms of community made architectural transparency. Does architecture have a chance to affect these conditions?

What are the new limits of glass—as technical instrument or social and political metaphor?

Beatriz Colomina
Professor, School of Architecture, Princeton University

Elizabeth Diller
Architect, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, New York

Matthias Schuler
Engineer, TRANSSOLAR, Stuttgart

Bernhard Weller
Director and Professor, Institute of Building Construction, Technische Universität Dresden

5:00–6:00 PM

The Near and Far Futures of Glass

Moderator: Mark Wigley
Dean, GSAPP, Columbia University

The technical limits of glass seem to have reached a new plateau: is it still possible to consider glass architecture a frontier project for the new generation of architects and engineers? Or do its ultimate material limits; in bending, stress and strain, cost, energy loss, modularity, and seeming standardization require a new mode of seeing glass architecture as inevitably embedded in a new stratum of capital-intensive and ubiquitous building materials? Is glass now a fully conventional material?

How have the roles material plays in design changed and to what extent can we consider any material extraordinary today, when we extended the capability to engineer material performance and to reduce risk?

Steven Holl
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

Werner Sobek
Engineer, Werner Sobek Engineering and Design, Stuttgart
Professor of Architecture, University of Stuttgart


Friday, September 28

9:30–11:00 AM

Structural Glass, Structure and Glass

Moderator: Richard L. Tomasetti
Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti, Inc., New York

Conventional goals for installation of glass have isolated and maintained the brittle material in conditions that assure minimal intrusion of stress and strain. Today, new means of testing and modeling loading, and of verifying the effects of the behavior of integral systems on each other have allowed more dynamic interaction of comprehensive ensembles of structure, glass, and framing systems. This panel examines the role of structural engineering in glass architecture and in particular new means of testing and projecting the behavior of systems.

Ulrich Knaak
Professor of Architecture, Technical University, Delft

Nina Rappaport
Publications Director, School of Architecture, Yale University

Jens Schneider
Professor of Engineering, University of Applied Sciences, Frankfurt

11:15 AM–12:30 PM

Optics and Climate Engineering

Moderator: Joan Ockman
Director, Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at GSAPP, Columbia University

The economic impact of recent environmental energy savings laws has usually been understood for overt if not linear decreases in energy consumption. Yet the emergence of a new standard of climate engineering also has produced architectures that are efficient but not decidedly driven to reducing consumption so much as allowing for a new type of architectural experience.

Glass architecture has been the recipient of many of these engineering advances and its visual qualities register against and sustain a history of early glass projects. But the visual aspects of glass have also been transferred from the experience of the user to a wider examination of material performance. The optic project is one of discrete examination and calculation of a finer gradient of affects. A finer visualization of the properties of glass as material and what these properties can allow architecturally raises the expectations for climate engineering, building design, and ultimately for energy studies in architectural design.

Michelle Addington
Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Yale University

Robert Heintges
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

Wilfried Laufs
Engineer, Werner Sobek, New York

Toshihiro Oki
Architect, SANAA, Tokyo

12:30 PM–2:00 PM


2:00–3:15 PM

New Materials/Conversion of Light

Moderator: Scott Marble
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

During the early 1990s a shift in direction occurred in architectural design that began to place greater emphasis on the performance capabilities of building materials—indeed the performance capabilities of architecture in its widest sense. Decades of academic work that relied on theories of meaning often taken from linguistic criticism have been increasingly displaced as the dominant method in both architectural education and building design. As an overall catch phrase, “new materials” has indicated a wide range of meanings, but in general it has indicated materials that will by their very nature change what we design—and possibly for whom we design.

What are potentialities that lie within the term “new materials” for glass applications today? How are new glass materials re-writing what we do with glass and for whom we work?

Graham Dodd
Engineer, ARUP, London

Susanne Rexroth
Researcher, Institute of Building Construction, Technische Universität Dresden

Thomas Richardson
Material scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley

Stefan Röschert
Architect, Diller Scofidio + Renfro

3:30–5:00 PM

Security, Safety, and Blast Loading

Moderator: Michael Bell
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University

Moderator: Christian Meyer
Chair and Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University

Impact loadings have been a concern of the engineering community for decades, in particular in those geographic regions that regularly experience hurricanes and tornadoes. Blast loadings were added to the set of loads on a large scale with the first attacks on U.S. embassies abroad, without really entering the public consciousness, because those attacks happened at a distance. Today, all landmark and important structures need to be re-engineered under a new set of design criteria. How do these new demands affect the glass installations as defined in earlier sessions of this conference? How does the engineering community respond to this challenge?

No realm of technical research outside of blast loading and security in glass applications seems so at odds with what we have historically expected of glass architecture. A construction possessed of a delicacy supplied by transparency— essentially fragile even as it has often been presented as anything but, in terms of social or political effect—glass architecture has routinely been understood as causing a re-evaluation of social or political hegemony. This tenuous quality has been a metaphor for the breaking of social relations within which the work situates itself.

Yet blast loading and security issues suggest that the limits we have placed on glass to sustain impact have been expanded— and indeed glass architecture’s continued presence, even acceleration in contested sites in an era of security risks would have us re-write glass as an act of securing stability rather than up-ending it. What are the new means of increasing— or sustaining—glass applications in security situations? How do we evaluate these in the context of the historical themes of glass as brittle and indeed fragile?

Albrecht Burmeister
Engineer, DELTA-X, Stuttgart

H. Scott Norville
Professor and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Texas Tech University

Robert Smilowitz
Engineer, Applied Sciences Division, Weidlinger Associates, New York

Closing Remarks

Convened by:
The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation,
Columbia University in the City of New York
Mark Wigley, Dean

In Collaboration with:
The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University
Christian Meyer, Chair and Professor

Institute of Building Construction,
Technische Universität Dresden
Bernhard Weller, Director and Professor

Engineered Transparency has been generously underwritten by the exclusive sponsor:
Oldcastle Glass

Exclusive media sponsor:
The Architect’s Newspaper

Download the Engineered Transparency Program

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