To add walls or not to add walls? That was the question Elizabeth Whittaker, Assoc. AIA, faced when renovating this Boston loft. Her client wanted to keep the wide-open spaces and exposed terra-cotta brick ceiling, but he was looking for a modicum of organization and privacy. Glass was the solution.

“We put the bedroom in the corner and wrapped it in glass,” explains Whittaker, principal of Merge Architects. The translucent walls create distinct public quadrants outside the bedroom without physically dividing up the rest of the 1,400 square feet of space. Late in the day, the glass begins to take on a more reflective quality, becoming nearly opaque. And after dark, it morphs into an art piece as it mirrors the neighboring bus terminal's electronic sign. “It was such a small move,” Whittaker says, “but it completely changed and transformed the space.”

A section of solid wall within the glass blocks the bed from view and contains a gas fireplace and art niche for the living/dining space. Above the fireplace wall, three large transom windows allow air to flow freely between the living area and bedroom. They also allow both rooms to share the single existing register for heating and cooling. Along the bedroom's short axis, a sliding glass door within a glass wall opens to the owner's corner office niche.

“When you do interiors, it's always about the materials,” Whittaker says, “and we love to research new materials.” The firm's exciting find on this project was COR engineered wood. The wood's uniform grain gives it a clean look, and the enhanced structural stability was ideal for 11-foot, floor-to-ceiling spans. Fine engineering is not only in the wood, however. The frameless glass panels are supported by custom-designed and -fabricated hardware that Whittaker says “gives the glass presence without creating a traditional wall.”

project: Quadrant Loft, Boston

architect: Merge Architects, Boston

general contractor: Harpy Eagle Remodeling, Malden, Mass.

metal fabricator: Magma Metalworks, Beverly, Mass.

cabinetmaker: Dana Teifert, Boston

project size: 1,400 square feet

construction cost: $133 per square foot

photography: Anton Grassl/Esto