Project Description2006 CHDA
Custom Detail / Grand Award
This desert home has a raft of remarkable features: four-foot-thick rammed earth walls at its lower level, which holds an extensive private museum; massive trussed steel girders supporting a transparent living module above; a custom system of cable-operated exterior sunshades. But the one that topped them all with our judges was this three-story-high wall of stacked glass. Laid up with “bricks” of ¼-inch-thick glass—“tens of thousands of them,” says architect Eddie Jones—the wall follows a snake-like 75-foot path through all three levels of the building. “Because it undulates,” Jones says, “it's self-supporting. There are no mullions or braces or kickers or anything.”
Builder Andy Byrnes set up a glass shop in the garage and assigned two men the task of cutting and coding the dozens of shapes required to produce the wall's curves. “They would spend months cutting and filling these little shelves,” Jones says. When they had enough material prepared, they would come out and build the wall higher. Then it was back to the cutting room. The “mortar” they used was clear silicone, which compressed enough under the weight of the glass that, after an initial period of settlement, the wall required additional courses. “About a week later, we had another couple of layers to add,” Jones says, “and that went on for a couple of months.” Now fully stabilized, the wall is rock solid and, in the view of our judges, a stunning piece of functional sculpture.