Thursday, May 15, 2008

Glass House Modernism Circa 1883

Phillip Johnson's Glass House (1949)

Having wasted a little too much time yesterday with the Making of America periodical database, I couldn't stop thinking about the article about the future of lumber substitutes from an 1883 issue of The Manufacturer and Builder. Amongst the suggested materials was a reference to glass veneers that would be strong enough to replace wood and have an appearance of real ornamental lumber that would fool the experts.

Glass as Lumber Substitute (1883)

As absurd as glass lumber sounds, consider for a moment petrified wood. When mineral-rich water runs through a piece of wood, the natural cellulose gives way to decomposition as the material is replaced by mineral deposits. Instead of a chunk of wood, you are left with a fossil of stone. Perhaps the silica of glass could be constructed in a petrified wood-like order and fired to create glass lumber.

Clearly, I am out of my depth. If anybody knows about these 19th century glass veneers for construction, please let us know.

Phillip Johnson Glass House
Petrified Wood
Previously, Making of America archive