When it comes to the latest developments in glazing technologies, Glass Performance Days is considered a must-attend event. Six tracks offer a look at a range of topics, including architectural challenges and solutions for facades. As part of this segment today, Dirk Schulte with APG International offered a look at one particular project for his firm that has, let’s say, a “higher calling” compared to some others in which the company has been involved.

Dirk Schulte with APG International described the mock-up of the “death star” portion of the project.
Dirk Schulte with APG International described the mock-up of the “death star” portion of the project.

Schulte’s session, “Crystalized Angel Wings – Folded Glass Membrane Enclosure of Third Church of Christ the Scientist in Washington, D.C.,” looked at the design and creation of this unique structure.

As Schulte said, “We’re building a church out of glass.” He explained that when they entered the design phase, the owner’s representative said to him that while the façade is very small, it is very important for the church, as it would represent the center of their faith and spirit for the next decade.

There could be no failure.

The glass church is actually embedded into the front of a conventional building, with the façade creating the main entrance. That storefront façade incorporates five church towers, crystalized, irregular shapes, which celebrate glass. Schulte explained that the church wanted to not only reflect the light around it, but also have transparency.

“It’s not a big project,” Schulte said, “but it’s a complicated one.” He added that the different shapes/patterns the façade creates resemble the wings of angels. In fact, it incorporates 128 different triangular shaped panels.

APG incorporated a number of technology tools in the design of this project. For example, it incorporated 3-D modeling and printing to make sure it fully understood the space and that everything would fit together.

Mock-up testing was also a critical element, such as on the portion they called “the death star” (see image). This part of the project was composed on ten panels with no frame, so everything was sealed with wet silicone.

At this time, the project is still under construction, with the glazing portion expected to begin in July. Once completed, it will span 22 meters in height, 12.2 meters in width and have a depth of 3.66 meters. The largest glass panel will be 5.10-by-2.41 meters; the longest unsupported edge is 5.65 meters.

GPD 2015 runs through Friday. Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more reports, news and videos from the conference.