Today, it’s easy to take big glass windows and doors for granted, whether they show up in commercial buildings or in our homes. But this use of glass is, at its core, a technological breakthrough that changed how we live and how our buildings work.
As architecture professor Thomas Leslie explains, insulated glass shaped the look of the 20th century. Big but poorly insulated glass windows went out of fashion as electricity allowed for the production of artificial light. Builders needed a new way to install windows that let in natural light, but also controlled heat.
Insulated glass was that solution. As the above video shows, the invention of a branded glass — Thermopane — and its immediate competitors led to the landscape we recognize today.
- In this paper about the development of insulated glass, Thomas Leslie explores the history of the enclosure.
- Flickr groups can be a great tool for finding old ads. The “Vintage Advertising” group includes some great examples of old Thermopane ads.
- You can also find ads for Twindow.
- The film in this video, American Look, is a 1958 look at the cutting edge of design. It’s still a gorgeous film and includes some great predictions (as well as some interesting incorrect ones).
You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube.