Bendheim Art Glass – Crowning Jewel in the Restoration of an American Treasure

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In 1995 during one of the worst winter storms on record, 100 mile-per-hour winds tore through San Francisco, leaving one of the city’s most beloved landmarks in tatters. 40% of the glass tiles that once sheathed the Victorian-era Conservatory of Flowers lay smashed on the ground. Inspecting the building after the storm, Department of Public Works officials despaired to find that the years of extreme moisture both inside and outside the building had rotted the infrastructure extensively. It was clear that something had to be done to save this fragile, decaying glass palace. But what?

“This was a totally unique animal,” says Edgar Lopez, a project manager for the City and County of San Francisco’s DPW Bureau of Architecture. “Here was this pre-fab, one-of-a-kind 19th Century greenhouse and no existing drawings. No one knew how to put the building back together.” Indeed little was known about the construction of the building.


Perhaps the biggest decision that the team faced in the rehabilitation project was the question of historical accuracy. As Edgar noted,” Bendheim’s vast selection of art glass provided the perfect palette to draw from when restoring the conservatory’s glass dome. Each glass color was matched to the dome’s original colored glass and provides a stunning accent to the otherwise completely white building.”


As Edgar explained, “the conservatory is whitewashed once per year, just as it was originally, which satisfies the solar requirements of the plants housed within the conservatory. The whitewash automatically comes off through the rainy winter months when the plants need the sun, and when the conservatory is re-coated each spring, the plants are well protected from the intensity of the summer rays.”
About Bendheim

Bendheim is one of the world’s foremost resources for specialty architectural glass. Founded in New York City in 1927, the fourth-generation, family-owned company offers a virtually unlimited range of in-stock and custom architectural glass varieties. Bendheim develops, fabricates, and distributes its products worldwide. The company maintains production facilities in New Jersey and an extensive showroom in New York City