Sounds like a bad horror flick! This notion of the “flash cube building” has come up enough times in my recent conversations with clients that it caused me to make a mental note. Although popular with commercial architecture designers in the mid-70s through mid-80s, the monolithic, mirrored glass box that resembles a flash cube is now outdated. It is outdated for two reasons: 1) too much of one thing cannot sustain interest, and 2) the glass of that era performed too poorly to be used correctly. Fast forward to 2014…commercial design fads have come and gone at an accelerated rate and in our fully digital age, the flash cube seems like some sort of exotic artifact.
So, is glass an evil building material? Absolutely not. With recent re-emphasis on natural day-lighting as a component of sustainable design, more and more glass is making its way back into commercial buildings. What’s fascinating to me is glass in itself is an amazingly gorgeous and durable material, but without proper attention in building design, it can cause major human comfort problems like excessive glare, UV damage, solar heat gain and convective heat loss. As a designer, the challenge for me is that my client decision makers still harbor sour feelings about the flash cubes. Hallelujah for modern glass products! With proven advances in low-e coatings, tinting, silk screened patterns and multiple insulated panes, our modern commercial office buildings take full advantage of glass in ways only limited by the imagination. Glass can be both cutting edge and timeless, but beware the return of the flash cubes!
Click here to learn more about Schemmer Architect Scott Heaney, AIA.