The World’s Most Innovative Glass Buildings

Light, yet strong, glass has long been the choice for architects who want to open a building up to the world around it, while still protecting the structure from natural elements.

It’s for this reason that contemporary architects are just as enamoured by glass as their predecessors, exploring the material’s many applications and turning potentially mundane structural formations into high art. Whether it’s mirrored, frosted or etched with a design, glass provides a fluidity with light that few materials can.

Here are 11 Extraordinary Glass Buildings That Exist not Only to Function, but to Inspire!

1.  Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, Poland.

Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, Poland

Simon Menges

The ribbed glass of the Szezecin’s Philharmonic Hall in Poland reaches up to the mountanious tips of its pitched roof. Designed by architect Barozzi Veiga, the building contains a large symphony hall and a smaller section for chamber music.

2. Gores Group Headquarters, Beverley Hills.

Gores Group Headquarters, Beverley Hills

Bruce Damonte

The glass panes of the Gores Group Headquarters in Beverley Hills form a complicated array of circles and diamonds. This design also gives the structure a soft, almost tactile appearance. The building was a project of the Belzberg Architects, and actually contains two layers of glass to provide its occupants with an extra level of privacy.

3. Christ Cathedral, California.

Christ Cathedral, California

The Christ Cathedral

Also known by its nickname The Crystal Cathedral, the Christ Cathedral in California’s Garden Grove was the largest glass building on the planet when it was completed in 1980. Architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee secured mirrored glass panels to the building’s outside frame with silicone glue, to reflect the serene surroundings. Inside, a web-like white steel framework adds another dimension to the glass facade.

4. ICA Building, Manhatten.

ICA Building, Manhatten

Philip Scalia/Alamy

Home to InterActiveCorp’s Manhatten headquarters, the rolling walls of Frank Gehry’s famous ICA Building twist upward in two sections. The glass exterior includes gradiented windows on each storey which range from white to translucent, which expand upon the wave-like motion to the structure.

5. The Bronx County Hall of Justice, New York.

The Bronx County Hall of Justice, New York

Jeff Goldberg

Completed by Rafael Viñoly Architects in 2007, the Bronx County Hall of Justice consists of corregated glass aluminium that surrounds the offices and courtrooms inside. The encasement is made from frittered glass which creates a layer of opacity indoors, while still providing views of the city surroundings

6. The Bloch Building, Missouri.

The Bloch Building, Missouri

Jordi Elias Grassot

This 2007 addition to Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Missouri, the Bloch Building is made up of five, frosted glass structures. Referred to as “lenses” by their designer Steven Holl, the galleries are connected underground. The opaque boxes filter natural light onto the exhibits inside, assisted by a carefully designed interior that directs light at every turn.

7. Seattle Central Library, Seattle.

Seattle Central Library, Seattle


The Seattle Central Library was a collaboration between OMA in Rotterdam and LMN Architects in Seattle. The library’s postmodern, angular building is formed from a mirrored glass on steel skin. Roughly half of these panes are formed from a sandwich of aluminum mesh and glass to protect visitors from sunlight.

8. Maison Hermès, Japan.

Maison Hermès, Japan

Michel Denancé

Maison Hermès is the brand’s flagship store in Japan. Designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the creation features a facade made entirely from glass blocks. During the day, these cubes entice potential customers with a softly filtered view of the items within its walls. At night, the glass allows light to flow outwards like a traditional Japanese lantern.

9. Foundation Louis Vuitton, Paris.

Foundation Louis Vuitton, Paris

Iwan Baan

Yet another Frank Gehry masterpiece, the sail-like planes on the Foundation Louis Vuitton building in Paris change colour and level of transparency depending on the time of year, responding to its environment.

10. Utrecht University Library, Netherlands.

Utrecht University Library, Netherlands

Jeff Goldberg

A combination of frittered glass and an abstracted print of fossilised papyrus allow light to filter into the Utrecht University Library in the Netherlands. Designed by Wiel Arets Architects, concrete panels of the same pattern were used on sections of the building to complete the design.

11. The Prada Store, Tokyo.

The Prada Store, Tokyo

atlantide phototravel/corbis

The Prada Store in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district is constructed from glass panels in a range of concave, convex and flat shapes. This gives the structure its a soft, rippling motion to contrast with the sharp outer angles. Created by architects Herzog & de Meuron, the design is also interactive. The bubbles of glass transform the view from both inside and outside, constantly changing for the amusement of the store’s customers.