Announcing the Winners of the Second Annual USGlass Design Awards

Transparency. Big glass. Renovation. These are just three trends we saw in the winners of the second annual USGlass magazine design awards. Winning projects pushed the boundaries of possibilities when it comes to architectural glass, showing exactly what can be achieved when the right combination of products, design, engineering and collaboration come together.

The second annual USGlass magazine design awards once again highlight exemplary uses of glass and glazing across several categories:

• Low- to mid-rise construction (under 75 feet);
• High-rise construction (more than 75 feet);
• Commercial interiors (podium, lobby spaces, etc.); and
• Specialty construction.

Three of the winning projects feature highly transparent structures constructed with large spans of glass, while the fourth drew praise from judges for being a historic retrofit.

The competition was open to all members of the architectural glazing industry, including contract glaziers, glass and metal fabricators and suppliers, architects, developers, owners and building envelope/façade consultants. Judges scored the projects based on design innovation; aesthetic achievements; and technical difficulty. We would like to thank and recognize our esteemed panel of judges: Adrian Betanzos, Innovation Team, Tech Company, Cupertino, Calif./guest lecturer, UC Berkeley Department of Architecture; Richard Green, Green Facades LLC; Mic Patterson, Facade Tectonics Institute; Ben Tranel, Gensler.

Submission information for the 2021 awards will be available this spring. For an entry form contact Ellen Rogers at


Adrian Betanzos

Innovation Team, Tech Company, Cupertino, Calif.;
Guest Lecturer, UC Berkeley Department of Architecture

Adrian Betanzos is a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley Department of Architecture, and also works at the innovation team of a known technology company in Cupertino, Calif., where he is in charge of developing new architectural materials, with a stronger focus on glass and its structural application. He has worked as a glass consultant for Vitro in Mexico City, a project manager for Permasteelisa North America and as a facade consultant at Front Inc. He has been an adjunct professor for the City University of New York and NYU, and lectured at Columbia University, Syracuse University, California College of the Arts, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and at other global technical façade gatherings.

Richard Green

Principal/Owner Green Facades LLC | Seattle, Wash.

Richard Green has been a global façade specialist for more than 30 years, working with curtainwall, glass walls, tension structures and more. He is the technical chair for the ASTM Structural Glass Committee and has an advisory role to Eurocode EC11. He is a member of the ASTM E1300 technical committee and was formerly a member of the Australian Standard AS1288, Glass in Buildings technical working group. He is a professional engineer registered in the states of Washington, New York, Texas and Colorado and is a Chartered Professional Engineer Judges in Australia, where he’s also a registered building practitioner in the State of Victoria.

Mic Patterson

Ambassador of Innovation and Collaboration Facade Tectonics Institute | Los Angeles, Calif.

Mic Patterson, founder, officer and board member of the Facade Tectonics Institute, is a designer, researcher, educator, futurist, author, photographer and entrepreneur. He has concentrated his professional and academic career on advanced facade technology and sustainable building practices. He is also a lecturer at the University of Southern California School of Architecture, and is a former member of the Advisor Group for the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. He is the author of Structural Glass Facades and Enclosures (Wiley).

Ben Tranel

San Francisco, Calif.

Over his 14 years in Gensler’s San Francisco office, Ben Tranel has grown the firm’s practice, refined its working methods, and strengthened its relationships, both locally and abroad. His portfolio spans mixed use, residential, office, hospitality, civic, and cultural projects. Highlights include the 632-meter Shanghai Tower, the Tower at PNC Plaza in Pittsburgh, multiple developments in the Bay Area, and the recently completed headquarters building for Alexandria Real Estate in Pasadena, Calif. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University.

Commercial Interiors

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) was designed to showcase the modern technologies available to fabricate glass in unique dimensions and quality. The glass used in the architectural design features a wavy geometry and light transmitting performance to (re-)open the building to the public community of the City of Chicago in one of its densest business districts.

The large storefront panels accommodate egress doors within a notch milled into the glass. In addition to the tempering and lamination, quality control measurement processes were developed, implemented and further optimized for use in future project applications with similar quality requirements.

The façade glass was constructed as 21.52-mm laminated glass, flat and curved, 2- x 10-mm heat-strengthened, low-iron glass, 1- x 1.52-mm SentryGlas clear interlayer. The fin glass was constructed as 48.04-mm laminated glass, flat, 3- x 15- mm fully-tempered and heat-soak tested, low-iron glass, 2- x 1.52-mm SentryGlas clear interlayer. The largest size of flat glass spanned approximately 11 by 25 feet and the largest curved glass was approximately 10.3 by 25 feet.

“This project literally set new standards in quality control and assurance providing guidelines to the industry based on an in-depth collaboration between all project members with inter-coordinated skills and knowledges, from design through fabrication to installation of the final product and assembly on site,” said Dirk Schulte, pre-construction executive with Roschmann.

With its large and slender structural glass panels extending upward from floor to ceiling, the storefront plays a vital role in the revitalization of the location between South Wacker Drive and the surrounding riverfront. This type of architectural design feature expresses structural glass and turns the building’s appearance into an expressive sculpture. Oversize glass is modulated in a curvy shape, using glass-to-glass connections to laterally support adjacent panels along the height, making additional mullions or other disturbing objects such as steel bracings unnecessary.

In reviewing the submission, judge Ben Tranel with Gensler commented, “The curved glass is beautiful. It draws the eye in and brings the lobby experience forward.  It’s a well-executed design that draws attention in a purposeful way.”

High-Rise Construction

Old Chicago Post Office Chicago, Ill.
Completion Date: October 21, 2019
Square Footage: 115, 000
Architect: Gensler*, San Francisco
Glazing Consultant: Wiss, Janney, Elstner
(Historic Preservation), Northbrook, Ill.
Glass Suppliers: Vitro Architectural Glass,
Cheswick, Pa.; Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®
(Vitro Certified fabricator), Schofield, Wis.,
and Indianapolis; Wausau Window and Wall
Systems (window manufacturer), Wausau, Wis.
Curtainwall Fabricator/Installer: SG Metals
& Glass, Bridgeview, Ill.
Window Installation Contractor: Auburn
Corp., Orland Park, Ill.

The Old Chicago Post Office is a national historic landmark, and the high caliber of work that went into this historic renovation drew accolades from the judges. The clear monolithic window glass, original to the structure (built in 1921 and expanded in 1932), was replaced as part of an $800 million restoration project. As a historic renovation, architects had to balance the need to preserve the building’s original aesthetics while meeting reflectivity criteria established by various city, state and, federal preservation organizations, as  well as practical demands for modern solar control and light transmittance.

Designing and installing/replacing 2,400 windows while maintaining the building’s historic integrity required the production of 16 custom dyes to replicate the windows’ existing sightlines. It also called for the use of 3-D printing to make extrusions and small cuts of the windows for initial historic commission approval. Each window needed componentry for the sill, head and jamb and each piece had a different dye for it. Countless combinations of dyes were required to re-create the original horizontal and vertical muntin patterns to replicate the building’s original factory-style windows. There were at least 25 different window sizes, some as much as 16 feet tall, while others were very small.

Once the world’s largest post office, this structure featured vast expanses of floor space measuring up to 800 feet long and 340 feet wide, as well as ceiling heights of up to 19 feet. Replacing the glass was critical to restoring the exterior façade as well as to creating an open, airy, sun-filled work environment.

In addition to meeting the aesthetic requirements for the restoration, the insulating glass units specified for the project have visible light transmittance of 70%, a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.39 and winter nighttime U-value of 0.24. The project features insulating glass units composed of 6-mm Solarban 60 glass/12-mm argon-gas fill/6-mm clear glass.

“As we move forward to upgrade the energy efficiency of our buildings, retrofitting energy efficient glazing is a critical part of alleviating climate change. The scale of this project and the care in which the historic frames were recreated is wonderful,” said Richard Green in judging the project. “With the divided lites and modern low-E IGUs there is a blend of historic aesthetic and current technology that will add value to the property, comfort to the occupants and very likely have a good pay-back for the owners.”

In his judging comments, Mic Patterson adds, “They may not always be the sexiest projects but, when viewed through the lens of sustainability, the deep-energy retrofitting and restoration of older buildings are hard to beat. We need to keep our existing building stock fit for their intended use for as long as possible to avoid the significant impacts of embodied carbon. These projects are no cakewalk; swapping out obsolete and under-performing existing products with modern high-performance materials and assemblies, while respecting the historical fabric and heritage value of these older buildings, requires an uncommon finesse and attention to detail by the design and build teams. The Old Chicago Post Office renovation exhibits these attributes in abundance.”

*Editor’s note: judges recused themselves from any projects in which there would be a conflict of interest.

Low- to Mid-Rise construction

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Expansion New York, N.Y.
Completion Date: October 21, 2019
Square Footage: 15,700
Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, New York, N.Y.
Glazing Contractor and Curtainwall Supplier: Frener and Reifer, New York, N.Y.
Glazing Consultant: Heintges Consulting Architects & Engineers P.C., New York, N.Y.
Structural Engineer: Severud Associates Consulting Engineers P.C., New York, N.Y.
Metal Installer: Utopia, Maspeth, N.Y.
Glass Supplier: Interpane, Lauenförde, Germany; sedak, Union, N.J.
Structural Metal Supplier: TriPyramid Structures Inc., Westford, Mass.

Glazing is an essential part of the MoMA expansion project, which links the museum’s 2004 Yoshio Taniguchi addition and extends programmatically into the lower floors of Jean Nouvel’s 53 West 53rd Street. The glass design maintains the palette of the two buildings while providing multiple readings of transparency/opacity allowing for selective views into the new gallery spaces and highlighting the new sculptural connecting staircase. Minimally supported structural insulating glass units serve to dematerialize the façade with horizontal spans of 24 feet across the stairwell and vertical spans of up to 30 feet at the Studio and Daylight Galleries. Here, each glass unit is supported at only six points using custom titanium insets which connect the glass to vertical tension rods. Solar exposure is modulated in the gallery spaces through the use of a custom pattern ceramic frit on the exterior of the glass. For acoustical separation, the Studio Gallery incorporates a double skin façade with an interior glass layer comprised of laminated glass with an integral stainless steel woven wire mesh creating an additional veil which modulates between gallery space and the environment outside. Kuraray was the interlayer supplier.

The façade design’s transparency is reinforced through maximizing the glass size while minimizing the location and visual appearance of the support system, resulting in unsupported glass spans between fittings. Extensive research and development involving the design and construction teams was necessary to execute the glass design and glazing support details. Structural analysis and multiple rounds of physical testing were performed to validate the final design for all loading conditions and thermal, acoustical and condensation resistance requirements for the gallery spaces. The façade also incorporates custom, all-glass, triple-glazed, center pivot entrance doors and a monumental folding glass wall, engineered, fabricated and installed by Frener and Reifer, at the ground level to further reinforce the openness.

“Very simply, this project uses beautiful detailing to achieve a very elegant glass façade,” said Green in his comments. “The final result is testimony to the care and attention to detail when designing the wall. The integral fittings laminated into the glass are state-of-the-art and the tension rod support system provides the most slender of solutions.”

*Editors note: judges recused themselves from any projects in which there would be a conflict of interest.

Specialty Construction

Skyline College, Environmental Science Building B12 San Bruno, Calif.
Completion Date: September 31, 2019
Architect and Structural Engineer: DES Architects + Engineers, San Francisco, Calif.
Glazing Contractor: Capitol Glass, Hayward, Calif.
Façade System Supplier: Sentech Architectural Systems, Austin Texas
Glass Supplier: Northglass, Luoyang, China
Square Footage: 2,083

The transparency created by the use of frameless glass in this project was paramount to the design mandate and maximized the college’s beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the façade was engineered to accommodate the extreme seismic loads found in coastal California, while still ensuring uninterrupted views. All of this is accomplished without the use of a vertical support structure.

The glass spans freely from floor to ceiling using the 22-foot tall insulating glass (IG) panels that are seismically isolated at the head to accommodate inter-story drift. This use of IG units required unique perimeter connections that provide tight control of the glass deformation under wind loads.

The project incorporates the VetraSpan clear span wall system from Sentech Architectural Systems. Sentech also provided system design recommendation, design assist, façade design and engineering.

The key challenge stemmed from the need to manufacture the glass to extremely tight bow tolerances, ensuring alignment between adjacent façade panels.

The IG units with argon filled air space and high-performance soft coat low-E coatings helped the project meet the energy performance requirements required by California’s Title 24 energy code.

“This project shows a very simple glass façade, but to achieve such simplicity and elegance, we know there was a lot of design and engineering work behind it, especially in locations with seismic movements,” said judge Adrian Betanzos, who added, “Well done!”

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.