Thursday 31 Aug 2017
Glass House Restaurant and Bar is a new hospitality concept in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, owned and operated by The Briar Group. Located in a modern glass mid-rise building at 450 Kendall Street, the eatery serves New American cuisine, operating as an everyday food and drink establishment serving the public, and providing a dedicated space for meetings, events, and social activities for the Kendall Square neighbourhood. The 5,200 square foot space seats 220 diners comfortably, including 130 seats inside, and an additional 90 seats at the outdoor patio, while also offering a raw bar and beverage bar adjacent to the main dining room.
Once the centre of the nation’s glass-making industry which attracted artisan’s from across the globe and produced patents for cutting edge glassworks of its day, the neighbourhood’s history is also analogous to its present. Home to modern day ‘glass houses’, the neighbourhood’s mid-rise glass buildings house some of the most innovative companies which bring in creative and inventive talent from around the world. Drawing on these themes, Glass House was conceived as a “modern day meeting house” for the community, and the design team created both the restaurant’s design and its branding concept as a nod to Kendall Square’s visionary identity.
Programmatically, one challenge was creating a place to hold private meetings and events throughout the day, while allowing the restaurant to continue to serve the public. The design team created the “conservatory” - a glass room within a room - with a large custom-designed metal window and door system enclosing the space. The room operates autonomously while also feeling integrated when functioning as a traditional dining area. As the formal dining atmosphere winds down for the evening, the room can be closed off, concentrating the activity around the two bars at the front of house. With the restaurant located off of the main street, placing the main bar in a visible corner of the building was intentional to create an appearance of being busy and vibrant throughout the day.
The interior design palette took inspiration from this new modern glass building, with its green glass façade as a starting point. The branding for the restaurant combined a modern geometric style with a retro, playful spirit. With this theme in mind, the design team used a minimal color palette, accented by nostalgic shades of green with a touch of copper detailing in light fixtures, bar taps, door handles, and plumbing fixtures, and graphics emphasizing the vision, discovery, and optimism of the neighborhood’s creative minds.
The seating needed to be both compatible with the operational function, and the excitement for the design. Dining chairs needed to be light and stackable, but also heavy and sturdy enough for consistent use, like the rest of the furniture. Three different chairs by Vitra mixed with a custom banquette in the dining room, and bar chairs by Ton and Stellar Works with custom upholstery, blend to create both contrast and harmony. Copper-hued drapery lines the glass walls of the dining room to soften the floor-to-ceiling exterior glass wall, providing light diffusing during the day, and improving the acoustics of the room.
The raw bar is uniquely designed to transition from a coffee and grab-and-go breakfast area in the morning, into a relaxed raw bar experience in the afternoon and evening. Oak panels wrap the ceiling and wall of the raw bar, travelling down the hallway to the kitchen, adding a warm feature to the minimal, sleek palette. Floor tiles by Cle in emerald green and white are laid in a formulated pattern to appear random in the dining room and in the bar room, picking up on the geometric theme. Similarly in the hallway, a custom-designed, illuminated stained-glass panel based on the restaurant’s logo design provides a visual destination for the corridor, ending with a custom wallpaper in the same geometries. Throughout, the design concept unites a theme on visionary identity with contemporary forms, a high-contrast materials palette, and playful visuals for a feel-good dining atmosphere.