Walk the Line: The Next Step in Glass Floors

When it comes to unique glazing applications, glass flooring continues to be a big attention grabber. Over the past couple of decades product advances and developments have made it possible to use glass in impressive structural feats—and, in some cases, with minimal added support structures. In this month’s project spotlight, we’re taking a look at just a few projects that define what’s possible when it comes to walking on glass.

Now That’s a View

The city of Canela, in the Serra Gaúcha, was already a popular leisure and tourist destination in Brazil. Now, with the arrival of Skyglass in Ferradura Valley, it’s drawing even more attention. The attraction opened in December 2020 and was designed by Adriane Wender and Miguel Del Río Francos with WR Arquitetura.

Skyglass, the largest glass platform in Latin America, is a suspended structure erected with more than 226 tons of concrete, steel and laminated glass, which extends over the Ferradura Valley. The platform is 68 meters long, 35 meters in balance, with total height 360 meters above the valley. Skyglass also supports the Abusado Ride–suspended monorail chairs that provide thrill-seeking visitors a unique site-seeing experience.

The Santa Catarina glass fabricator Unividros was responsible for the glass lites used in the Skyglass. The 90 square meters of the catwalk floor include 34 pieces of laminated glass, constructed with low iron glass, produced in Brazil by Cebrace, a joint venture between Saint-Gobain and NSG/Pilkington. Glass design and execution was handled by Inovention. Each piece of glass is approximately 43-mm thick, tempered and laminated with Kuraray’s SentryGlas ionoplast interlayer. Each square meter of the glass floor has the capacity to support up to 500 kg/m² of vertical load and pressure generated by winds of up to 220 km/h. There are also 42 pieces of extra clear glass used in the railings from Cebrace, curved and straight, tempered, 10 mm + 10 mm, laminated with SentryGlas.

Luxury Showroom

“It must be strong enough that a vehicle could drive over it.” That’s not a common request when it comes to glass, but that’s what architectural firm Whitfield Associates wanted for the structural glass floor design of the Porsche Santa Clarita car dealership. To meet this request, Glass Flooring based in Whippany, N.J., engineered and fabricated a drive-on system that consists of four layers of tempered glass with three layers of SentryGlas. Each glass panel was 7 by 7 feet and installed by Vision Quest Glass Inc. of Woodland Hills, Calif.

The 14- by 14-foot square glass floor is located in the middle of the showroom, which looks down into a classic vehicle museum on the basement level. The glazing make-up included 10-mm low iron tempered glass, 1.52-mm SentryGlas, 10-mm low iron tempered, 1.52-mm SentryGlas, 12-mm low iron tempered glass, 1.52-mm SentryGlas and 12-mm low iron tempered glass.

Full Speed Ahead

Operated by Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) Berri–UQAM Station in Montrealis the main hub to the third largest subway system in North America. A recent revitalization project, completed in September 2020, included the replacement of the first-generation vertical, one-hour, fi re-rated glass system, which included a heavy steel structure that restricted vision and transfer of light. To meet the fire separation requirements and to allow passengers to see train level arrivals below, the STM selected Litefl am XT 60, a one-hour, fire-rated glass floor system from Greenlite Glass Systems and installed by Vitrerier RD. The fire-rated glazing in the system was supplied by Vetrotech Saint-Gobain.

The renovation was part of a larger phase, initiated in March 2015, to modernize the open areas where people circulate and the train platforms for the Orange and Green lines. The Architectural Department of STM wanted to not only enhance ambient lighting, but also restore or replace floor finishes, concrete walls, dropped ceilings and partition glass.

Greenlite Glass Systems engineered and manufactured the Litefl am XT 60 glazing system to meet the complex specification, engineering and installation requirements. The system was required to meet ASTM E 2751 design of laminated glass walkways, CAN/ULC S101 fi re-rated for 60 minutes, and withstand the “piston effect” generated by the trains.

As a way to keep the station open during the renovation while having minimal impact on users and subway operations, all glazing and components were first trained into the platform level and then craned up from above. This helped eliminate the need for excessive floor space and ensured worker and public safety.

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