The first skyscraper in London, by definition that is a: 'tall building with a steel structural frame' was Adelaide House built at London Bridge - the tallest building in London when built in 1932. As these commercial towers have reached further skywards in financial districts of the world; New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei have all held the tallest building record at some time. With early skyscrapers, the mass of brick or stonework required in construction proving a major limitation to height achievable due to structural failure and collapse from the weight supported above. What if the glazing could contribute to the building strength? What if glass and steel became the major components? This has been the way of the last fifty years following on from the stunningly simple monolithic 1958 Seagram Building in New York by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
The soon to be completed 'Shard' tower by architect Renzo Piano also at London Bridge features a reinforced concrete skeleton. This will be encased in an acute-angle-making glass curtain wall and feature many interior glass walls, at 80 storeys the Shard will also be the tallest building in London when finished.
In addition to achieving height, many commercial developments have now become integrated with residential, cultural, sport and retail in mixed use communities. In some cases with even the inclusion of vertical parks and gardens. Most of these are glass-clad with use zones differentiated by shape and colour. Investment surveyors now have heart for glass. Just look at the performance of the 'gherkin' in Mary Axe in the City as an portfolio item. Glass sells, glass is always a sound investment. The skyline of most modern cityscapes is now a glass horizon - clearly a glass building is 'the business'.