A Model for Joining Glass and Steel: Seven Perverse Architectural Details

  • Exhibition: Attempts at Breaking into a Glass House, Art Institute, Steven Goldman Gallery, Portland, Oregon | April 3 - 28, 2014

A Model for Joining Glass and Steel: Seven Perverse Architectural Details plays upon the ubiquitous Miesian detail--particularly, the detail of structural I-beam and glass skin as seen in the Farnsworth House (Plano, Illinois 1951). In this house, the glass and steel maintain an austere relationship, sliding past each other in close but formal contact. In contrast, the glass and steel details designed by Laurence Sarrazin and Nora Wendl exhibit intimacy and near-human corporeality—glass in all its material potential. Numbered 0, 1, 2, 3….the sequence suggests a biological relationship between the glass and the steel, in which the glass—which begins as an autonomous bubble, divorced from the steel I-beam—overcomes and eventually subsumes it in an awkward, but perhaps not impossible, detail: the DNA for a new glass house, one yet to be.

In this work, a partial recreation of the south face of the Farnsworth House, we took a contrarian position. Rather than aligning the glass against the face of each 8-inch wideflange steel column, we nestled it in the interstitial space between flanges and webs. Instead of working with panes, we blew glass, confronting its corporeality. We had seconds to deform each glass bubble by one physical force—a pull, a push, a squeeze, a fold was applied to each before cooling. The outcome reveals the truer nature of glass—undomesticated, unsettled, searching for equilibrium.

Glass as it is never seen.

This is our dream of the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, in their ideal state, many human lifetimes later than ours.