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Rethinking the All-Glass Building


The highly glazed CORE Building on 7th Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Upper floors are residential.

Is it time to end our love affair with the all-glass building? A lot of proponents of high-performance, green design certainly think so—while other respected architects, including some leading green designers and energy experts, argue that all-glass can work well if done right.

From Shanghai to Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt, highly glazed façades have been in the vanguard of high-rise, high-design buildings for the past half-century. Some of the world’s most prominent “green” skyscrapers, including New York City’s One Bryant Park (the LEED Platinum Bank of America skyscraper) and the New York Times Tower, wear the mantle of green with transparent façades. But there is a high environmental cost to all that glitter: increased energy consumption. Until new glazing technologies make technical solutions more affordable, many experts suggest that we should collectively end our infatuation with heavily glazed, all-glass buildings.

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