The 58-foot-long laminated glass fins on Erie Insurance Group’s new headquarters were engineered by W&W Glass and installed by Imperial Glazing Concepts Inc. Photo courtesy of Jeff Haber.

Bigger is better. That’s the thought behind a project in Erie, Pennsylvania, featuring North America’s tallest single-span glass fins. The 58-foot-long low-iron laminated glass fins were engineered by W&W Glass and installed by Imperial Glazing Concepts Inc. (IGC). The fins were made by Thiele Glass and the insulating glass units were made by Tvitec Glass. They adorn the new headquarters of Erie Insurance Group.

According to Jeff Haber, managing partner at New York-based W&W Glass, the project has been ongoing for some time.

“Before Covid, this was going to be a Pilkington Planar point-supported glass wall, but the job went on hold,” he says. “After Covid, it came back, but Pilkington had shut down its operations for point-supported glass and exited the market. The architects came back to us and asked us what we could do. We said we would like to do a newer, more updated structural glass system.”

The W&W engineering team conceived the glass fin system and modeled and tested it to work to the prescribed loads. The team built a performance mockup at Intertek’s laboratories in Pennsylvania where they did air, water, seismic, water, structural and post-breakage performance testing. During the latter, the fins were broken in place and replaced under design loads to ensure the wall wouldn’t collapse.

Haber says the fins are part of W&W’s new Insight system, which covers free-spanning glass, jumbo glass units, point-supported glass and deadload shelf-supported structurally glazed applications.

“The system is an insulating laminated unit with a solar control coating on surface two,” says Haber. “It also features a warm-edge spacer, so we get better thermal performance since we’re not penetrating the glass with fittings and a thermally broken perimeter channel.”

W&W built the performance mock-up (PMU) and IGC brought its foreman and technical advisors onsite to watch the construction. The reverse was done during the actual installation of the fins. Haber says W&W officials were onsite during the installation to provide technical assistance while IGC rigged and installed the fins.

There were several project challenges. Haber says the logistics of manufacturing, boxing and shipping the 58-foot-long fins was difficult. It was also tough to find enough space at the construction site to lay the fins down.

“It was a huge undertaking,” says Haber.

The single-span fins are the largest that W&W has worked on. The previous record was 46 feet at One Manhattan West in New York City.

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