April 10, 2017

UrbanGlass Counts Four Decades as a Thriving NYC Workshop

A 1981 photograph of the New York Experimental Glass Workshop’s second location, above a garage on Manhattan’s Mulberry Street. Photography courtesy of UrbanGlass.

It was 1977 when three art-school graduates, Erik Erikson, Joe Upham, and Richard Yelle, transported a glassblowing furnace in the back of a car to a downtown New York warehouse, thereby launching the first artist-access glass center in the U.S. The resulting New York Experimental Glass Workshop became an office for such artists as Dale Chihuly and Toots Zynsky. Over the decades, the organization moved to Brooklyn into a boarded-up former theater, was renamed UrbanGlass, and became the country’s largest glass workshop for independent artists.

The current building, a former theater from 1918 renovated by Jeffrey Beers International and Leeser Architecture. Photography by Mark Hall.

Four years ago, UrbanGlass opened a 3,000-square-foot ground-level exhibition and retail space designed pro-bono by Jeffrey Beers International, the firm’s namesake founder himself introduced to glassblowing by Chihuly. Simultaneously, Leeser Architecture renovated the nonprofit’s 17,000-square-foot third-floor space, where thousands of students take classes and hundreds of artists and designers work. 

> See more from the March 2017 issue of Interior Design

The retail portion of UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, New York, sells Jamie Harris wall sculptures, Andrew Hughes bowls, and a lamp by Michiko Sakano, all hand-blown on-site. Photography by Steven Mays.

Jeffrey Beers blowing glass with Daniel Trupiano in 1984. Photography courtesy of UrbanGlass.

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