Swiss Bank Cone

1996 - 1999
UBS Warburg Building, Stamford, Connecticut, United States

The Stamford Cone is a 14-metre-high stained glass pavilion commissioned as a site-specific artwork for the headquarters of UBS in Stamford, Connecticut in the United States. This commission, to be situated in the Gateway Commons Park, was part of the City of Stamford's Percent for Art programme.

Designed and fabricated over three years in collaboration with architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and engineering firms Goldreich Engineering and Dewhurst MacFarlane & Partners, it was unveiled in 1999. At the time of its completion, comprising 861 square feet of stained glass, the Cone represented one of the largest free-standing glass structure ever made. The artwork, developed out of Clarke’s designs for the unexecuted Center Villa Lobos in São Paulo, consists of 861 square feet of mouth-blown and leaded stained glass.

In June 1999, Fairfield County Business Journal writes:

'The Stamford Cone is a jewel of opulent colour radiating an ever-changing play of light against and through a surface of luminous organic forms. Expanding the lyrical abstractions that have evolved in his paintings and earlier work in stained glass, Brian Clarke has infused the work with an energetic exuberance that balances against a delicate spirituality. Aesthetics aside, the Cone is a marvel of technology, built entirely of glass and reinforced by a system of structural glass fins.’

Clarke writes of the project in the 1998 monograph Brian Clarke: Projects:

‘Most artists who work in two dimensions feel the regular desire to explore a third. In the early hours of the morning a couple winters ago I crudely carved a small cone from cheddar cheese. That early half-idea has today grown into a radical structure almost entirely formed from glass...Open to the public and staff of the Swiss Bank, it is one of my first real 3D pieces in stained glass. A solid sail [of opaque mouth-blown glass] forms part of the glass structure and it is onto this that pools of transmitted colour will fall during direct sunlight, and it will act as a reflector screen by night when powerful internal illumination will render the cone as arresting by night from outside as it will be by day from within. Steel tension cables and ring beams are the only non-glass structural elements in this work. An 18-metre circle of scented flowers surrounds the base and a skybeam searchlight will radiate from the centre of the stone base up through the open apex 1 mile into the sky. I like to think people will spend time alone in the cone when they need that kind of emotional uplift.'