The Stamford Cone (Swiss Bank Cone)

UBS Warburg Building, 677 Washington Boulevard, Stamford, Connecticut, USA


I want people to feel like they are stepping into the centre of a sapphire.”

The Stamford Cone, completed in 1999, is a four-storey freestanding sculptural stained glass pavilion, commissioned as a site-specific artwork for the Swiss Bank Corporation's headquarters and a gateway to the city of Stamford, Connecticut. Lit up from within to be a beacon by night, and by day a public sculpture and an environment in itself, the Cone is set in a regenerated park and, at the time of its creation with architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, it was one of the largest freestanding glass structures in the world. The artwork, which developed out of Brian's designs for the unexecuted Center Villa Lobos in São Paulo, consists of 861 square feet of mouth-blown and leaded stained glass.

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.” – Fairfield County Business Journal, June 1999.

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. The cone, which stands 14 metres high and has a footprint diameter of 6 metres, is located in front of the Swiss Bank Headquarters in Stamford. It will be visible to the countless commuters who daily thunder along Interstate 95, and to the railroad users who are disgorged by Amtrak into the centre of town. 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.” – Brian in the 1998 monograph 'Brian Clarke: Projects', published by the Tony Shafrazi Gallery.