Announcing the Winners of the Inaugural USGlass Design Awards

Brilliant, colorful, challenging. These are some of the words judges used to describe the winners of USGlass magazine’s inaugural design awards. These projects take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. The glass takes form and shape; it shows movement and direction. It’s colorful and purposeful.

These inaugural design awards were created to recognize excellence in the use of architectural glass and glazing. They highlight exemplary uses of glass and glazing in both interior and exterior applications in four categories: high-rise (more than 75 feet), low- to mid-rise (under 75 feet), interiors and specialty construction. Both the high- and low- to mid-rise projects incorporate unique façade details, while the commercial interior and specialty construction applications bring color and unique shapes and details to the design. All use glass in unique ways, pushing the proverbial envelope of what’s possible in architecture and design.

The competition was open to all members of the architectural glazing industry, including contract glaziers, glass and metal fabricators and suppliers, architects 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 panel of judges: Anthony Cinnamon, Wiss, Janney Elstner Associates Inc.; Richard Green, Green Facades LLC; James O’Callaghan, Eckersley O’Callaghan Engineers; and Mic Patterson, Ambassador of Innovation & Collaboration, Facade Tectonics Institute.

Submission information for the 2020 Design Awards will be available this spring. For an entry form, contact Ellen Rogers at

Designed to be the most resilient tall condominium on the West Coast, every square-inch of 181 Fremont was engineered for high performance, including the innovative, unitized curtainwall system constructed with Solarban 70 glass. LEED certified at the Platinum level, 181 Fremont was designed to enhance the energy performance of the 55-floor, mixed-use tower by incorporating fully glazed floor-to-ceiling windows.

One of the most unique details of the project is the sawtooth pattern throughout the curtainwall. This acts as a passive solar design system with angled window mullions that face slightly inward against one another. Due to its ability to block heat while transmitting light, the glass accentuates the performance of the angled window mullions, which function as a shading device as the sun passes over the building each day. The sawtooth design created hundreds of unique curtainwall units, and each had its own 3D model, where the connections and milling could be studied in depth. The diagonal elements of the glass façade required retention cages that encroached on the anchor zone. This required several months of modeling to avoid conflicts with the cladding. The sealant joints between the glass and aluminum frames were a half inch larger to ensure the most extreme seismic racking, helping the structure achieve itsResilience-based Earthquake Design Initiative (REDi™) Gold Rating.

In addition, the angular glass façade helps reduce the heavy windload associated with the San Francisco area. Traditional smooth-sided buildings accelerate winds and increase stress on the buildings. However, 181 Fremont embodies an open, chevron-shaped midway about 500 feet up the tower to dissipate wind forces along the glass-walled amenity terrace. Due to the open nature of the amenity terrace, wide glass panels were required to achieve the prescribed level of wind deflection.

Nike’s new flagship store in New York City features custom carved and slumped insulating glass units (IGU) that create a dynamic façade. Reflection, distortion and transparency are combined to provide striking effects on and through the façade, which serves as a billboard for the brand’s identity of speed and athletic movement.

Custom carved and slumped IGUs fabricated by Cricursa create the unique aesthetic that evokes motion even while being still. Two scales of patterns were used to create the effects: the double-curved geometry of the slumped waves tapering to a flat perimeter of each lite served as an overall canvas, with a micro-pattern of lines providing a finer grain of texture.

The glass units are supported by a grid of exposed steel framing hung from the roof. At the entrance, the slumped façade lifts up from the ground at the same angle as the Nike swoosh creating the clear glazed entrance vestibule.

This material solution to Nike’s concept for a lenticular membrane was developed during a research and design phase and verified through testing. Engineering challenges included the lack of established rules for glass with surface disruptions, the use of annealed glass which is more vulnerable to thermal stresses, and climatic loads acting on the large volume of air between the lites of the IGUs.

The Spheres, Amazon’s glass-domed headquarters in downtown Seattle, was designed by architectural firm NBBJ to be a “hybrid environment that inspires productivity and collaboration.” The 65,000-square-foot triumvirate required more than 620 tons of steel supported by a concrete base to buttress the triangular double-laminated IGUs. These were fabricated using 5-mm Starphire + 5-mm Starphire with Solarban 60
on the outboard laminate/5-mm Starphire + 5-mm Starphire inboard laminate.

The Spheres’ façade contains 2,643 lites of glass fabricated to create a pentagonal hexacontahedron—a 60-surface ball made of pentagons—composed of nine reoccurring individual shapes of glass. The trio of conjoined glass domes are comprised of five floors of meeting, relaxation and collaborative space complete with terraces, waterfall and river features, and a treehouse conference area.

The Spheres house 40,000 plants (more than 400 species of plant life), so the structure’s glass has to be capable of allowing photosynthesis. As a result, selecting a glass that maximizes the amount of solar energy entering the building while limiting heat was imperative. The low-iron glass and a low-E coating that allowed a concentrated portion of the solar spectrum to come into the building while rejecting heat were necessary. NBBJ modeled more than two dozen glass products before making the final selection. In addition to enabling photosynthesis, these performance characteristics met the architect’s objectives to control solar heat gain, minimize the need for artificial lighting and provide glare control.

Architectural glass applications don’t have to be huge to make an impact. Sometimes even a small amount of glass can make a profound statement. That’s evident in the colorful glass staircase in the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital located in Frisco, Texas. The interior rainbow steps provide aesthetic charm, creating a unique centerpiece for this children’s hospital. The slip resistant dot pattern provides added safety when steps are either wet or dry. The dots also provide visual security and comfort to those who navigate the stairs by drawing focus to each tread from the translucent colored step and ground below.

SBG used digitally printed laminates for the colors and combined digitally printed slip-resistant ceramic ink to the first surface for traction control. Each unit was pattern cut with holes, including two landings. The project called for a digital print pattern of ¼-inch circles at ¼-inch on center without partial tread along the front of the step and for the first circle to be meticulously placed at the inside corner.

In total, SBG fabricated 507 square feet of glass used in the staircase. The company’s work included pattern cutting, hole drilling, tempering, lamination, color matching, digital printing to SentryGlas Expressions (SGX) PVB interlayer and digital printing to the first surface using Dip-Tech slip-resistant ink (DTG). The project incorporates 1 9/16-inch low iron, heat-strengthened glass.


Anthony Cinnamon | Wiss, Janney Elstner Associates Inc.

Anthony Cinnamon is a licensed architect and associate principal with the Wiss, Janney Elstner Chicago office, where his expertise lies in the investigation of windows, curtainwalls and exterior wall systems. Cinnamon has written articles on the inspection, repair and replacement of window and curtainwall systems and has presented seminars domestically and internationally on fenestration topics including glass failures and testing and repair of window and curtainwall systems.

Richard Green | Green Facades LLC

Richard Green is principal/owner of Green Facades LLC. He serves as the technical chair for the ASTM Structural Glass Committee and has an advisory role to Eurocode EC11. He is a member of the technical committee for ASTM E1300 and was a member of the technical working group for Australian Standard AS1288, Glass in Buildings. Green is a registered professional engineer registered in Washington, New York, Texas and Colorado and is a chartered professional engineer in Australia.

James O’Callaghan | Eckersley O’Callaghan Engineers

James O’Callaghan, co-founder of Eckersley O’Callaghan, is a structural and facade engineer with more than 20 years of experience. He is well-known for his highly innovative designs of glass envelopes, stairs, bridges and other structural elements in Apple’s iconic retail stores around the world. He has taught at the University of Portsmouth and is currently a visiting professor at the TU Delft School of Architecture.

Mic Patterson | Ambassador of Innovation & Collaboration,
Façade Tectonics Institute

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 on the technical research committee for GlassCon Global and a former member of the Advisor Group for the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. He is the author of Structural Glass Façades and Enclosures (Wiley).

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