Viracon Fabricates Glass Facade for National Museum of American Jewish History

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Photo by Halkin Architectural Photography LLC

The National Museum of American Jewish History, located on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, features a glass façade fabricated by Owatonna, Minn.-based Viracon and installed by APG International.

Designed by Polshek Partnership (now Ennead Architects), the museum overlooks Philadelphia’s Independence Mall and has views of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Constitution Center.

“The visual accessibility of the glass volume was meant to welcome people of all backgrounds to the museum and to represent the immigrant experience,” says James Polshek, design principal of Polshek Partnership, now Ennead Architects. “The glass symbolizes the museum’s efforts to reach out to other people – other ethnic and religious groups that came to this country – and extend to them a welcome.”

Dean Kim, an architect who was a member of the Polshek Partnership design team, adds, “The design team carefully studied several low-E coatings in an effort to strike a balance between the clarity of the glass and the required performance for a west-facing glass façade.”

Viracon representatives silk-screened a custom ceramic frit, drawn freehand by the building’s design team, onto the glass curtainwall.

“We invented a frit for the curtainwall. The frit was made by everybody on the team, drawing interlaced freehand horizontal and vertical lines. Up close, it looks like weaving – this weave or network of threads is symbolic of how the Jewish experience in America is woven into the experience of all Americans,” says Polshek.

The National Museum of American Jewish History was completed in 2010. The project team also included general contractor Intech Construction.

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