Industrial Glass USA | The Glass Brick Comeback

The Glass Brick Comeback

Blocks of architectural glass were first developed for use in the factory buildings during the 1900s. However, after a brief but widespread use of glass bricks by the glass industry, the material is now being linked with outdated 80’s architectural styles, an aesthetic that few seem interested in reviving. Pioneer contemporary architects have again started using this unique material in new and distinctly modern ways, be it for sleek and minimalist bathrooms, industrial bars and restaurants, vintage residential windows, or even experimental urban façades. 

In this article, we study glass bricks and how they made a comeback in the industry.

What is a Glass Brick?

Glass bricks or blocks enable the passage of light, while providing a level of privacy, obscurity, and other insulating qualities such as sound deadening, energy insulation, and fireproofing. Its original patent was filed in 1907, which described it as a process of fusing two sections of glass with a hollow center into one block. This industrial glass is widely used on walls, skylights, and lights on the sidewalks.

Here are some features, types, and benefits of it.


Some of its salient features are:

  1. They can be altered in various ways during the manufacturing process to achieve distinct aesthetic effects or levels of transparency, including modifying the texture or color of the blocks, generating many shapes such as hexagons, or curving the blocks part of a predetermined construction. 
  2. Glass blocks come in many varieties of sizes but are usually not more than two to three inches thick.
  3. Glazes or inserts can be added to each block, or patterns can either be pressed into the inside or outside surface while it is cooling.
  4. Glass blocks are often assembled with grout or sealant, like bricks. 
  5. Some blocks come with assembly systems that provide wall anchors and vertical and horizontal spacers to align the blocks with precision. Using spacers, the blocks are spaced precisely and consistently and then bonded with silicone. 


Glass blocks are produced in various types such as:

  • Bullet and vandal resistant

Bullet and vandal-resistant blocks are generally solid glass or have very thick side walls similar to pavement blocks.

  • Fire resistant

Standard production hollow blocks will offer little fire resistance. However, it is made fire-resistant by specially producing hollow glass blocks with thicker sidewalls or the inclusion of a particular layer of fire resisting material within the two halves of the block during manufacture. 

  • Gas-insulated

A recent innovation in glass blocks’ production is the addition of argon gas within the hollow center of glass wall blocks. This offers significantly enhanced thermal insulation properties.

  • Colored

Some glass blocks are available in colored variants. Some are UV stable and can be used in the same locations as standard clear glass blocks. 

Now let us have a look at some of the benefits for the same.


For a variety of reasons, architects continue to use glass bricks. Glass brick walls and windows, with their unique look and ability to diffuse light, are not only aesthetic statements to themselves but can also improve the lighting and atmosphere of a whole space. Here are a few benefits of glass bricks:

  • Privacy: They can be installed in garages and basements or elsewhere where valuables are stored without revealing what items are held. They are also frequently installed in bathrooms to bring natural light without compromising homeowner’s privacy.
  • Safety: Glass bricks are much harder to break into than regular windows. This benefit coincides nicely with their use in premises that contain valuables. 
  • Waterproof: Glass block windows due to their material composition are highly waterproof, making them great investments for flood-prone areas.
  • Energy-Efficient: The glass bricks are extremely energy efficient. They not only generate thermal insulation values similar to double-pane windows but perform a better job than traditional window frames to block air infiltration. Therefore, it diffuses natural light and reduces the need for artificial lighting and saves energy.
  • Heat-Resistant: Glass bricks are airtight and thus reduce heat transfer. Some glass block windows even use glass with low emissivity, further reducing the amount of heat that can enter through the glass. 

Glass blocks stem from a long history of prism lighting and utopian architecture and decorated some of the most beloved or influential buildings of the early 20th century, like the Penn Station of New York. Today, architects are again beginning to explore the aesthetic and material properties of this unique architectural element, pushing towards new boundaries in the architectural design of glass and light. Incorporate glass block windows matching the rest of the home’s design and generate an aesthetic appeal for your property. 



Industrial Glass USA | Four Hidden Innovations in Glass

By Jose Mario D.

The glass in windows and doors is designed to provide outward view while at the same time protecting us from external conditions. Interestingly, the transparent material still finds plenty of applications as a basis for the house’s entire facades. According to a study, we are a stay inside generation. The study surveyed about 16,000 people over 14 countries in North America and Europe and found that around 90 percent of people spend near to 22 hours inside every day. Doors and windows, in particular, play a crucial role. They are the pieces that connect to at least three of the four elements – air, earth, water, and light that we need for life. The windows or glass façades also protect us from the adverse effects of the outside world, such as wind, heat, cold, noise, exhaust fumes, and uninvited guests. However, as some innovations show, glass functions can be extended considerably.

These four examples show you the new options that glass installed in windows, doors, or mirrors offers:

Industrial Glass USA - Four Hidden Innovations in Glass

1) Dynamic Remote Controlled Smart Glass

Dynamic glass refers to glass & windows, which change their light control’s state and appearance in response to external stimulation. The stimulus may be tension, heat, or sunlight. Dynamic glass is generally produced with two or more laminated glass layers with an interlayer of the active or switchable film between. Dynamic glass can change from clear to a private or tinted variable to darken a room or building. This makes the occupants more comfortable, connects them to the outside if desired, and saves energy by reducing HVAC and interior lighting systems’ demand. Dynamic Remote Controlled Smart Glass offers:

Whiteout privacy and light diffusion instantly switchable
Darkening, tinting, and light control of variable room on request
Sunlight-responsive, eco-adaptive self-tinting glass for room dim and light control

2) Turning Windshield Into a Digital Dashboard Glass

Improved transparent display technology based on a fluorescent emissive projection system transforms a whole glass window or windshield into a motion display panel without affecting the glass view. This new technology acts as an electronic display screen for an entire vehicle windshield or glass window building. Fluorescent phosphorus nanostructures embedded in the windshield glass matrix display show various information, such as opaque images, or data. Technology applications include storefront glass windows, glass panel hi-def video displays, and other high-contrast projection displays.

3) Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) Transparent Solar Glass

Inventive power-generating windows can generate 50 times more power per building than conventional solar panels. In contrast to traditional and opaque PV technology, BIPV can be easily used as a coating to a glass window or plastic surface and generate electricity instantly, even in artificial light and shade. The technology can produce more power at a lower cost and remain unaffected by high temperatures so that optimal operation does not require ventilation.

4) Switchable Glass

Windows that switch from transparent to opaque with the touch of a button are being developed for residential use to help reduce the cost of cooling in summer months and for year-round privacy.

Electrochromic technology currently allows windows to tint on demand and has been used for several years in aircraft windows. Present models take a transition time of up to seven minutes and don’t get dark enough for widespread residential use.
Researchers at the University of Stanford are working on an improved version. Within three minutes, their prototype shifts from bright to dark. The new research involves the use in the glass of an electrolyte gel combined with a transparent conductor. When applied with an electrical voltage, the glass changes from transparent to opaque. A negative charge causes ions to form a solid metal, and darkening of the glass. A positive charge dissolves the metal and returns to clear glass. The electrical voltage is required only to alter the opacity of the window. Once unplugged, the window will remain in the same state until re-applying electricity.


Glass is already a fascinating material: it is transparent but full of possibilities. The four innovations are, of course, just a small part of it. After all, they’re limited to the role of glass in windows, doors, facades, and mirrors. You wouldn’t have been capable of reading this without glass at all. Without a fiber optic cable infrastructure, the dear World Wide Web would be so slow that it probably could not have established itself in this form at all.