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April 28, 2024

Materiality, Brick in Contemporary University Architecture

Glen-Gery collects New York’s elite builders and architects at Brickworks Studio in midtown to discuss and celebrate the most innovative projects in modern brickwork featured in their new book “Materiality: Brick in Contemporary University Architecture”. A riviting display of design that pushed the boundaries of what is possible with brick. Available for sale on Glen Gery’s website. 


On Thursday, April 17, 2024, a select group of New York’s top builders and architects gathered at the prestigious Brickworks Design Studio in midtown, a location befitting the launch of Glen-Gery’s latest publication titled “Materiality: Brick in Contemporary University Architecture.” This unique series, brought to you by Glen-Gery, one of the world’s leading brick manufacturers, offering over 600 high-end brick options and has supplied bricks for the most innovative design projects around the world. The evening’s “book of honor” is the latest addition to this series, celebrating the achievements in architecture.

Upon arrival, guests walked up a grand staircase with glass brick walls to enter the main event space on the second floor. A spread of Middle Eastern-inspired dishes, specialty cocktails, beer, and wine was provided, creating ease among the attendees discussing facades, architecture, and brickwork. The space was decorated with previous editions of Glen-Gary’s “Materiality” series and custom brick molds sprinkled between fashion mannequins.

The editor of “Materiality: Brick in Contemporary University Architecture,” Ron Ringer, started the event by conciselyspeaking about the tradition of passing knowledge on to future architects and masons. He stated that while “this book is aimed to be understood by the general public,” it is also used as a tool for architects to “circulate ideas about brick design.” Ron thanked his contributors for putting up with his “polite nagging” as he introduced them to the stage.

We heard from eight architects; each highlighted some of the books of the book’s most beautiful brick structures. One of the most notable is the Zeppos Residential College at Vanderbilt University. Designed by the David M Schwartz architecture firm, this series of buildings earned notoriety for the impressive combination of limestone, brick, and local Tennessee Crab Orchard sandstone. Inspired by the gothic architecture of Oxford and Cambridge, the design team used all three elements in decorative and random patterns to create a visually stunning and genuinely unique facade. The team continued this aesthetic on the inside of the building by incorporating a thinner brick of a similar color and finish to the red brick that made up most of the facade.

The next most notable was the work of HDR Architects on the IRIBE Center for Computer Science and Engineering at theUniversity of Maryland. The building site for the center is situated next to a creek that runs through the entire campus, which challenged the buildable space for this center as the team had to consider the flood line for the creek, which heavily cut into the lot. However, this challenge became the precise source of inspiration. After spending much time at the site, the architects began to grow quite fond of the creek nearby and started to notice, in particular, how the water would cascade around the protruding pebbles and rocks. The design team used this imagery to create the building’s innovative spiral shape and design. Using the technique of parametric modeling, the architects and Glen-Gary partnered together to translate the movement of their inspirations into a system of bricks that holds a six-story instructional and research space and a 300-person two auditorium. The structure has two entrances, which are integrated around the façade and are reminiscent of a Frank Lloyd Wright home.

You can see below the images of both of these works as well as some additional images of the event and other featured projects. 

The evening was concluded by Glen Gary with an announcement of their new brickmaking program, where people from the community can come into their workshop and learn the craft of building a custom brick mold. By the metrics of inspiring designers, sharing knowledge, and spreading new ideas about what a brick building is, the event was a wild success. Thank you for having us Glen-Gary! We would return anytime.

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