Colored Glass in Architecture: Dreams Do Come True!

I have the blessing of living in a neighborhood filled with beautiful Victorian houses and every time I take a stroll, I always find new beauty on each house. A few weeks ago, while Simon and I were walking back home from a nearby restaurant, we were especially receptive to all the beautiful colored/stained glass windows some houses had. Instantly, Simon told me that I should make a blog post about colored glass in architecture. Here you have it.

Some of the earlier versions of colored glass were in the form of stained glass at gothic churches in Europe. It was seen as a way for God to shower human beings with beauty and guarantee that parishioners kept on going to church.

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Stained glass at Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral. One of the few places on earth that tears run down my face as soon as I walked in. Certainly God knew how to shower me with beauty that day. – Take note that it took almost 200 years to build this magnificent place.

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Beautiful stained glass at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. A must place for visitors.

Colored glass was also used at mosques and other religious buildings around the world.

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Vibrant colored glass at Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran. Beautiful Middle Eastern architecture dancing with colors.

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Imagine walking down this hall. Being showered by the colors of Iran. Take note at the unique tile and rug work.

There are also more contemporary religious buildings where colored/stained glass is used in a more up to date form.

Chapel windows by Jean-Jacques Duval at Jean-Jacques Duval's Connecticut Synagogue.

Chapel windows by Jean-Jacques Duval at Jean-Jacques Duval’s Connecticut Synagogue.

The beauty about stained glass is the fact that enhances space from big dimensions such churches to smaller places such houses.

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Small details such as this butterfly and three roses can make a small Victorian room the best place to hang out.

Not only Victorian houses serve as good hosts for colored glass. More organic and contemporary houses are also good at that.

Nautilus House in Mexico City by architect Javier Senosiain

Nautilus House in Mexico City by architect Javier Senosiain. Inspired by the shape of a conch.

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Talking about wonderful spaces to hang out.

And talking about housing. I personally would love to have a colored balcony when my body cannot be as adventurous.

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MVRDV’s WoZoCo 100 unit senior living facility matching up with the Dutch daylighting codes that are required throughout the country.

Colored glass is also famous among commercial architects, for human beings are universally attracted to transparencies and color. Here some shots at these buildings.

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Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.

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Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision by Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk … architects still relatively unknown in the United States. And no, they are not trying to clone Rem Koolhaas.

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Your Rainbow Panorama Circular Pathway in Denmark . If you are thinking of the best place to take your tech/artsy date for a short stroll, this is it. Resting atop the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, the fascinating colorful glass panoramic rooftop allows visitors to get a 360 degree view of the city.

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Well, hopefully when you are on your date, there are not as many people.

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And here is where you kiss! … Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, who were inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

Not only glass can be colored. Plexiglass also serves as a wonderful surface for color. “Kolonihavehus” by NY-based artist Tom Fruin is an outdoor sculpture made out of thousand pieces of found plexiglass. The piece resides in the open plaza of the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen.

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Now this is a structure that aims at interior and exterior lovers at the same time.

Stained glass can beautify spaces even in small dozes. Here a gorgeous butterfly we bought at Looking Glass Collage on Upper Haight Street. Altogether with another butterfly, they make our breakfast and lunch times on our dining area much more beautiful.

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Happy Valentine’s Week everyone!

Victorious Vinctorians San Francisco’s Obsession

There is something magnificent about living in San Francisco and part of that is to be able to be constantly inspired by   Victorian Architecture.

This past 4th of July, Simon and I went for a bike ride around the city and confirmed the beauty of San Francisco’s architecture by spending some time laying on the grass in front of The Conservatory of Flowers. There I took a picture that I still can’t take out of my head. The magnificent structure standing in front of the beautiful flowers in full bloom. I needed to find more about such amazing building and after doing some research, I found that The Conservatory of Flowers has been alive for more than a century and it was built during the Victorian era.  It is also the oldest wood and glass conservatory in North America.

Conservatory in late 19th century and an Instagram image I took on July 4th 2012

This is not the only landmark public Victorian building in San Francisco. The Ferry Building also stands strong to this day winnig the hearts of millions o people that live and visit the city by the bay. Opening in 1898 on the site of the 1875 wooden Ferry House, it became “the transportation focal point for anyone arriving by train from the East, as well as from all the East Bay and Marin residents who worked in the city.  From the Gold Rush until the 1930s, arrival by ferryboat became the only way travelers and commuters—except those coming from the Peninsula—could reach the city.”

Ferry Building (exterior and interior) in the late 19th Century

And let me tell you, riding your bicycle on Market Street while you approach this building can be quite the nirvana experience. Seeing such a magnificent structure standing there right at the end as a milestone for your ride is for sure one of my favorite things about this city.

2012 view of Ferry Building. Exterior and Interior

And now, lets take a short ride along the city to see some truly stunning Victorian houses.

Biking on Washington Street (Pacific Heights), you could find this redish beauty

Between the Western Addition and NoPa, you will find these houses with semi-round cupules ~Photograph by Cyndi Lu Who

And of course once you reach Alamo Square, you will find the world famous Painted Ladies. Here their true beauty and in watercolor by SF based artist Ronald Pratt.

Heading up on Hayes Street, you will be in awe after finding this rhone painted queen

And on your way to Haight-Ashbury on Lyon Street you might be able to witness another row of painted ladies … this ones are a little more humble and less famous yet equally beautiful. ~iPhone Photograph by Simon Jones

Now you are on the Upper Haight and what a beautiful way to reach the top than by witnessing such wonderful and colorful corner house

Upper detail of a house in Cole Valley … perfect time to stop and grab a root beer float at The Ice Cream Bar.

Heading down on Haight Street you will find this row of colorful houses right on front of Buena Vista Park

And some of you know this house … yes the McAllister house by James Francis Dunn. A beautiful mystery towards Fillmore Street

To see more about this house, visit my September 2010 archives.

Entrance to the enchanted house …

Now time to observe the details … look at the brackets and the curved hood mold

The intricate railing, window molding and the cresting ~Photography by Kimberly Kradel

And the fun spider gate with gorgeous arched entrance. ~Photograph by Kimberly Kradel

Stay tuned for next post which will focus on Victorian interiors …