Double Take: On Decorative Glass Projects

When it comes to architectural decorative glass the design possibilities are practically endless. Options for creating a unique aesthetic span from colors, patterns and textures to images, shapes and sizes. So when architects and designers want to create a true wow effect—whether the project is interior or exterior—decorative glass is often a top selection. In this month’s project spotlight we’re bringing you a look at just a few eye-catching installations.

Free Falling

Decorative art glass is a dominant interior detail within the recently completed new Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). The airport underwent a $4.1 billion Airport Redevelopment Program designed to address operational needs, seismic requirements and security standards, while creating a modern and distinctive airport. Napa, Calif.-based
national public artist Gordon Huether is creating several major, structurally integrated art installations.

Constructed with approximately 300 dichroic glass panels and 220 hand drawn glass and Pyrex rods, “The Falls” is the first of Huether’s structurally significant installations to be completed. The artist was inspired by Utah’s natural beauty and the project is meant to resemble the waterfalls dispersed among the state’s canyon landscape.

The 65-foot-tall suspended sculpture cascades down the escalator well at the entrance to the new main terminal, where the natural light from the terminal’s glass facade helps create an array of ever-changing colors and patterns on adjacent surfaces.

The installation took two workers several weeks to complete using a custom designed movable platform, referred to as the “donut,” to attach the glass panels and rods to the cables with custom-designed glass clamps. The entire suspended sculpture weighs 5,000 pounds and is attached to the terminal ceiling with spring boots to help retain tension on the cables during the winter months when the roof bends under the weight of up to four feet of snow.

A second sculpture called “Northern Light” features dichroic glass and is currently being fabricated in partnership with Sebastian Willeke in Germany. Willeke will fabricate the sculpture out of 500 glass rods, hand-drawn by the same artist who created those used in “The Falls,” and 300 dichroic glass panels. Installation of “Northern Light,” which will resemble a half sphere when completed, is expected in 2024.

Cover to Cover

Forsyth County leadership considered many sites for a new library before deciding to renovate the existing Forsyth County Central Library. The facility in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., was a complex of two brutalist, concrete buildings constructed 30 years apart and connected at a single point of circulation, awkwardly splitting the library program in two. Architectural firm RATIO designed a renovation and expansion that transformed the structure into a seamless, open plan of daylight-filled spaces for the community. Dysfunctional parts of the existing buildings were demolished, functional areas were renovated and an addition was constructed that responds to the needs and program of a 21st-Century library.

RATIO’s design utilizes daylighting in several spaces, and allows that light to penetrate deep into the interior. In order to best utilize natural light while managing energy performance, RATIO selected two Guardian Glass products. On the northeast elevation, SunGuard SNX 62/27 coated glass provides a visible light transmission of 62 percent with a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.27 to maximize the amount of natural light coming into the structure. The glass also provides a decorative element.

“The glass team worked with RATIO to combine Guardian SunGuard coated glass with acid etched glass in some insulating glass units, and a 40 percent white dot frit on other IGUs,” says Kevin Huse, AIA, RATIO principal.” Combined with IGUs that used Guardian SunGuard SNX 62/27 coating on clear glass, these three looks allowed us to get the coloration and tinting just right, bringing the pattern we envisioned to life on the façade.”

The project also features SunGuard SNX 51/23 coated glass on the southwest elevation, which combines a visible light transmission of 51 percent with a low solar heat gain coefficient of 0.23 on clear glass. This ensures daylit spaces do not result in too much heat distracting the patrons and employees and taxing the facility’s HVAC system.

The glass was fabricated by Press Glass and installed by Pfaff’s Glass based in Winston-Salem.

Lap of Luxury

Luxury carmaker Volvo is giving its dealership in Durham, N.C., a design makeover that features glass as a primary building material. The building’s exterior displays a matte finish, thanks to the acid-etched Velour finish by Walker Glass on surface 1 of 6-mm Starphire Ultra-Clear glass from Vitro Architectural Glass. Viracon fabricated the IGUs. The combination of clear and etched glass creates the impression of decorative frames to highlight the Volvo vehicles.

In designing the project, architectural firm CJMW prioritized comfort and wellbeing, paying special attention to how daylight flowed through the space. To enhance the lofty showroom, the Velour finish of the acid-etched glass allows light into the space to promote the wellbeing of the building’s occupants while still showcasing the vehicles.

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