17 Pieces of Glass Art and Architecture That Will Blow Your Mind

Inspired by this week’s feature on a Glassblower’s Guide to Things to Do in Tacoma, I wanted to highlight some of the more special glass works (architecture, installations, and art) around the world.

I’ve come to appreciate glass as such a special product, with its unique properties – if you stop to think about it, it really is quite a wonder, and one we’d sorely miss if we didn’t have it. Consider a house or car without windows for example!

Glass art and architecture is everywhere, so on your next trip – maybe in one of these places – stop and admire it.

The Biggest Glass Palace in the World – Leipzig, Germany

They call the great hall at the Leipzig Fair “the biggest glass palace in the World” because just looking at it, you can see it’s incredible. It’s the largest levitated glass hall, 240 meters long and 80 meters wide, with 1140 tons of glass floating above your head.

The Okinawa Aquarium, Japan

While it might be “acrylic” glass (so, slightly different than what you’d drink a beer out of), the largest acrylic glass panel in the world can be found at the Okinawa Aquarium. As this photo suggest, it’s a surreal experience. Many say this aquarium is the best in the world. I’ll leave you to go and decide for yourself.

Apple George Street store in Sydney Australia

Apple has a knack for building incredible, noteworthy Apple Stores – the architecture is part of the experience. Their store on 5th Avenue in New York is the most photographed location on Flickr, believe it or not, but it is the George Street Store in Sydney Australia that makes a noteworthy glass accomplishment – the largest seamless glass panes in the world. I personally do love shopping in Sydney, so if you’re down under, say hello to the folks at Apple – and then check out some other recommended stuff to do in Sydney.

Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center is certainly one of the Windy City’s highlights – and that’s saying something from a town known for its architecture. This is Tiffany’s Largest Glass Dome and Skylight, and it is the largest stained-glass domed ceiling in the world. And don’t miss my other tips for fun places to go in Chicago.

Worlds Largest Glass Sculpture – Bellagio, Las Vegas

I couldn’t have a list of glass amazement without featuring Dale Chihuly, the world’s foremost glass artist and a true genius. His built the largest glass sculpture in the world which is on display on the ceiling of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. It appears to be oozing across the ceiling, almost ominously. It’s wonderful.

The World’s largest Collection of Glass Art

If you like glass, then you must visit one of the world’s best glass museums, the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG). It’s home to the largest collection of glass art, and has some wonderful pieces and an extraordinary permanent collection. Corning is a lovely town in upstate New York, great to visit this museum in combination with a trip around the Finger Lakes.

Central Saint Giles, London

Talk about a unique piece of architecture! These entirely glass facades that drape the buildings of Central Saint Giles in London are a departure from the city’s more reserved building features, but my what an eye opener they are, especially on a dreary, cloudy day. Beautiful, eh? A must see during your trip to London.

Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France

What glass art list would be complete without a photo of the world’s most famous and iconic glass pyramid? This wonderful addition to the Louvre in Paris, France, is so famous that it’s spawned numerous copies and features in many films and movies, including The Davinci Code. You can’t see in the photo, but the Louvre has 4 pyramids – the one large pyramid and 3 smaller ones surrounding it.

Cascade at Adelaide Botanical Garden in Australia

If you’re considering the possibilities of what to do in Adelaide, then you must visit the Adelaide Botanical garden. That’s where you’ll see this wonderful glass structure, Cascade. There are over 500 glass pieces glued together to create this tidal wave of awesome!

Murano, Italy: The Home of Glass

Murano is said to be the home of glasswork – many of today’s glassworking techniques are based on those same principles that were pioneered in Murano. You’ll have an endless choice of shops for buying glass, or to watch glass art being made, plus you’ll want to visit the Murano Glass Museum – where you’ll see some amazing works, like these glass plants!

Bridge of Glass, Tacoma

Of course, we have to visit the city that inspired this list! Tacoma has a lot of great public glass art, much of it from Dale Chihuly. His most famous piece must be the Bridge of Glass. No, the entire bridge isn’t glass, but it’s got hundreds of pieces and this wonderful ceiling that will leave you totally inspired. Next door to it is the Tacoma Museum of Art, a must-visit.

World’s Largest Stained Glass Window

The largest stained glass window in the world was located on the facade of the American Airlines terminal at JFK airport in New York. Unfortunately, the airline didn’t have the money for the upkeep of the facade, and no donors or sponsors came forward to take it, so it was dismantled.

Now, the largest stained glass window is at the Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois. It seems like an unlikely destination for a glass-lover, but if you drop by at sunset, you’ll be treated to a spectacular display.

Most Evocative Stained Glass

Speaking of stained glass, my personal favorite for stained glass is the beautiful Sainte Chapelle chapel in Paris, France. It’s just so experiential – it’s dark, the colored light streams in, the tourists are quiet and respectful….

Crown Fountain

Chicago’s Millennium Park has really changed over the years – it’s a prime property but today it’s also a tourist hot spot, with so many wonderful outdoor pavilions, public art, and view after view. One of the more controversial pieces are these glass brick towers. They have faces of local Chicagoans portrayed on them. I’ve seen it and it’s interesting – perhaps not my personal faves, but the kids romping in the reflecting pond in between, it seems a hit with the locals.

The Glass House

Like minimalism and modern architecture? Then you’ll want to check out The Glass House (or Johnson House), built in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut. You can note influences of Mies van der Rohe and Glasarchitektur, the famous German style from the 1920s. It’s a private home, tucked away from view (er, probably best!), but tours are available.

Scariest Piece of glass to Stand on

There are plenty of glass viewing decks in the world that are a bit adrenaline-pumping, but the relatively new Grand Canyon Skywalk certainly takes the cake – this horseshoe shaped structure has a fully transparent glass floor, and glass side walls – apart from the bit of supporting structure you see in the photo (which I think we’re all thankful for), this view isn’t for the weak of heart.

The Glass Flowers

Last but not least, we end at the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As with most things Harvard, it’s an immaculate and organized collection of exhibits, covering many genres, but one of the most interesting is the enormous collection of glass flowers. Not quite one-of-everything, but close!

What piece of glass art/architecture have you seen on your travels that is an inspiring must-see?

Photo Credits: Matthias17, carolsawada, shanodiwakar, whistlepunch, stuckincustoms, sludgeulper, woolner, batigolix, brewbooks, sbc9, Andy Hayes, lapstrake, riverap1, sergemelki, mjkmjk, joeshlabotnik.

17 Pieces of Glass Art and Architecture That Will Blow Your Mind

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