Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Windows

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Windows

Article excerpt

Windows. Until now, I've had only one other job--my first after finishing graduate school--in which I worked in an office with a window. At one job I shared a cinderblock, eight-by-eight-foot office with my assistant, a woman with whom I remain good friends (sometimes familiarity does not breed contempt). At another, I worked in a small cubicle located in a corridor of a suite of offices.

After working in windowless offices for nearly ten years, I am delighted to have an office with not one, but two large windows that offer a spectacular view of the Hudson River, the mountains, and West Point Academy across the river, and a lone, majestic spruce tree that stands a hundred feet or so from my office. By my count, the Gordon House (the main building of the Hastings Center) has well over 100 windows of various shapes and sizes.

Some of the most beautiful and architecturally complex windows are those of gothic cathedrals. These exquisite stained glass windows depicting biblical stories and figures radiate light into the cathedral, yet do not permit the viewer to see out the window, or those on the outside to look in. As in Vermeer's paintings, the play of light on interior space draws the viewer into an intimate and private communion with unknown external forces.

In the twentieth century, new technologies of glass played a role in the design, dimension, and function of windows. Towering glass skyscrapers became the new cathedrals of light and imagery. …

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