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The Age of Glass

The Age of Glass: A Cultural History of Glass in Modern and Contemporary Architecture

by Stephen Eskilson

Stephen Eskilson is Professor of Art History at Eastern Illinois University. He is coauthor of Frames of Reference: Art History and the World (2003) and author of Graphic Design a New History (2007 & 2012). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2018
  • DOI:
    10.5040/9781474278393
  • ISBN:
    978-1-4742-7836-2 (hardback)

    978-1-4742-7835-5 (paperback)

    978-1-4742-7837-9 (epdf)

    978-1-4742-7838-6 (epub)

    978-1-4742-7839-3 (online)
  • Edition:
    First Edition
  • Place of Publication:
    London
  • Published Online:
    2018
The Age of Glass
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Glass has long transformed the architectural landscape. From the Crystal Palace through to the towering glass spires of today’s cities, few architectural materials have held such immense symbolic resonance in the modern era.

The Age of Glass explores the cultural and technological ascension of glass in modern and contemporary architecture. Showing how the use of glass is driven as much by changing cultural concerns as it is by developments in technology and style, it traces the richly interwoven material, symbolic, and ideological histories of glass to show how it has produced and dispersed meaning in architecture over the past two centuries.

The book’s chapters focus on key moments within the modern history of architecture, moments when glass came to the forefront of architectural thought, and which illustrate how glass has been used at different times to project different cultural ideas. A wide range of topics are explored – from the tension between expressionism and functionalism, to the persistent theme of glass and social class, to how glass has reflected political ideas from Nazism through to today's global consumer capitalism. The book also grapples with current arguments about sustainability, while, taking into account the advent of digital LED screens and ‘smart glass’, offering new cultural perspectives on the future and asking what glass architecture will signify in the digital age. Combining close readings of buildings with insights drawn from research, plus good storytelling and strong contemporary relevance, The Age of Glass offers a fascinating new perspective on modern architecture and culture.