Behind the Glass Screen Walls

During your next visit to the recently renovated GlassMarket Café at the Corning Museum of Glass, pause to look more closely at the custom designed architectural glazed screens and walls.

Glass screen walls at the GlassMarket Cafe ©Michael Orr Associates

©Michael Orr Associates

These 3 major architectural elements are integrated into the spacial planning of the new Café to add function, seclusion and intimacy within the large open plan renovation.

The screens/walls are planned as:

  • a 4 Panel Mobile Screen which functions as a café bar.
  • a 4 Panel Pocket Sliding Wall Screen which functions as a private entrance divider.
  • a 6 Panel Fixed Screen Wall which acts as a space divider to adjacent retail areas.

Each Screen/Wall explores industrial glass transparency and translucency by combining clear class rods, hollow glass tubes, ribbed glass tubes and clear glass frit filled tubes.

Detail of the glass screen walls ©HAIGHArchitects


The glass raw material is Simax borosilicate scientific tubing, rod and milled frit. The selection of borosilicate is an industrial reference to the Corning’s history of manufacturing scientific glass. A precedent for utilizing glass rods in architectural elements is evidenced in the original Corning Glass Center bridge damaged in the flood of 1972.

Volunteer looking out of the Glass Bridge at the Corning Glass Center, Courtesy of Corning Incorporated, Archives

Courtesy of Corning Incorporated, Archives

A number of years ago I worked with Peter Drobny, formerly of Steuben Glass, to realize some initial concepts in glass tubing and develop fabrication techniques. The opportunity to develop and realize these ideas for the GlassMarket Café project brought these concepts to life.

detail of a glass screen wall ©Kevin Smith Carbone Metal Fabricators

©Kevin Smith Carbone Metal Fabricators

Prior to final fabrication, by Carbone Metal Fabricators in Boston, several small scale mock-ups were built to visualize the prismatic and optical effects created by the varying tube and frit types.

Once finalized, Pegasus Glass of Toronto, Canada, fabricated the glass components for assembly on-site. Each screen/wall is fabricated from custom anodized aluminum sections and assembled from multiple panels, The glass tube/rod types are randomly stacked within each panel during assembly into the frames.

Glass screen wall ©HAIGHArchitects


Enjoy and linger a little longer.

Paul Haigh : November 2012

Architect, designer and educator, Paul Haigh is Principal of HAIGHArchitects llc. His most recent projects for the Corning Museum of Glass include the GlassMarket Café in association with Hunt EAS and the Making Ideas: Experiments in Design at GlassLab Exhibition.

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