Structural Glass

glass-workDuring the first two decades of the 20th cent u ry the material was primarily used in utilitarian locations requiring durable, non-staining, easily cleaned and maintained slab materials: wainscoting, flooring, refrigerator linings, lavatories, table and counter-tops, bank coupon desks, and electrical switchboards, and in places such as hospitals and bakeries. The ability of the material to reflect light without glare also made it suitable for corridors, operating rooms, and laboratories. In these years structural glass was also being used on exterior surfaces, especially store fronts, where it was substituted for stone in bulkheads and dados.

Colored opaque structural glass was once widely used in this country. Although it is no longer manufactured in the United States, structural glass is still best known by the historic proprietary names of “Vitrolite” and “Carrara.” This paper discusses the history, manufacture, and characteristics of structural glass and the repair and replacement options available today. Colored opaque structural glass was fused at high temperatures, rolled into slab form, slowly annealed, and mechanically polished. Historically, the glass was marketed in black, white, and a variety of colors and finishes. The glass has also been known by many other terms, including re c reated rock slab, sanitary glass, rolled or opaque opal glass, and h eavy obscured structural glass