Westfield Valley Fair Mall Renovation and Expansion

Westfield Valley Fair Mall Renovation and Expansion

A New Look In Silicon Valley

 

If you thought malls were going out of style and virtually on their way out – you might want to think again. Tucked in the middle of campuses for Google, Facebook, and Stanford University is one of the Northern California’s best-known malls. Senior management of Westfield’s Valley Fair Mall says that malls are not going anywhere, but they are evolving.

 

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Announced and begun in 2016, the Westfield Valley Fair Mall mega renovation and expansion is a multi-phased project to grow Silicon Valley’s premier shopping center to a 2.1 million square foot retail landmark. The project will completely renovate the existing 1.5 million square foot center (during operation) while expanding the mall to provide space for 90 new retailers, including a three-story, 150,000 square-foot Bloomingdale’s department store, as well as showrooms to feature the world’s latest luxury fashion brands. The $600 million expansion project includes the construction of new mall entrances, as well as a dining/restaurant area that will connect the interior mall to the outdoor pedestrian promenade and event space. It will also feature a luxury movie theater/entertainment alley, a fitness center with an expansive third-floor outdoor yoga deck, and a six-level, high-tech parking garage.

 

valleyfair2019_2 Rendering

 

Glass will play a major part of the new look for this iconic mall. The elegant new design will look contemporary yet timeless, transforming the entire face of the retail mecca. The JPRA Architects design showcases seamless, suspended glass skylights that are designed to flood the center with natural light. The distinctive common areas will showcase sophisticated furniture, providing many welcoming places to relax and enjoy the ultra-comfortable space.

                                                                                                     

Opening in 2019, here’s the company’s vision of what the completed mall will eventually look like.

 

Major renovation is planned on the current skylight areas to replace them with new Pilkington Planar™ point-supported structural glass underslung skylights to let more light in the building. There will also be an addition of a structural glass fin wall entrance on the new ICON movie theater that will replace a previous anchor tenant.

 

valleyfair2019_3 Rendering

 

In addition to the renovation, W&W Glass is also supplying Pilkington Planar™ point-supported structural glass systems for the expansion with seven new skylights, two new glass fin wall entrances, and a few other interior structural glass areas of the building. The team worked very closely with JPRA and Westfield on the design details for the systems that they are supplying to Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems (BAGS), Inc. for installation. The renovation is currently underway with the new addition following closely behind.

 

Stay tuned for more updates as the project progresses.

 

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valleyfair2019_2 Rendering

 

Here are some overall build stats by the numbers.

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See more information and progress on this project from Westfield here.

 

W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™ structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

The Future of Glass Architecture

Glass – One of the Hardest Working and Effective Building Elements Today.

 

It may or may not be a coincidence that glass rhymes with class. All glass facades are synonymous with a clean, chic look, leaving viewers with a feeling of seeing something that is a cut above the rest. Not that long ago, we only primarily saw glass-dominated exteriors and interiors in high-end commercial office buildings. That certainly isn’t the case today. Many residential and office towers in major cities now have floor-to-ceiling window-clad facades, lobbies, and all glass interior partitions. Arguably, one of the most significant architectural innovations of modern times, however, has been the development of point-supported structural glazing systems as designers and engineers have pushed to create spaces with a minimal visual barrier between the interior and exterior, while maintaining structural strength and occupant comfort.

 

St Nicolaaskerk Church, Amsterdam
St Nicolaaskerk Church, Amsterdam

 

If you believe using glass is a new trend or just a phase, then it’s time to hit the history books. The use of glass in buildings dates back to the Medieval Times with stained glass for churches and cathedrals. Since then, the fundamental purpose has remained the same – to allow light to enter a space and occupants to see out while providing a barrier against the elements. Today, glass does much more than provide natural light into a room or an enclosure to an office building, it’s making a statement.

 

Yankee Stadium- Mohegan Sun Club Area - Photo 2
Yankee Stadium

 

Now, structural glazing is widely specified for use in sports, retail, hospitality, and public sector developments large and small. It is also becoming increasingly popular in protecting heritage sites, where its low-profile, high tech fittings allow it to serve a practical function as an ultra-clear veil for preservation without obscuring or obstructing historic architectural features.

 

Domkirkeruinen ved Hedmarksmuseet
Domkirkeruinen ved Hedmarksmuseet – Hedmark Museum, Norway

 

Leading this charge with the latest technology is the Pilkington Planar™ system. In the 1960s, Pilkington developed the very first point-fixed structural glass system, the Pilkington Suspended Assembly System, which transformed the way glass could be integrated into the envelope of a building by removing the need to connect glass panels continuously to aluminum or steel framing.

 

Since the compressive strength of the glass is extremely high, frameless, point-supported systems flex under loading without any dynamic fatigue. They tend to feature minimal fitting connections that enhance the overall transparency of the façade. High strength tempering helps to add additional strength to the glazing to span further between points of support.

 

As the designs for structural glass and complexity of back-up structures have advanced, the proportion of a building envelope that can consist of these glass systems has increased. Using this approach, systems can form minimally supported structural glass walls of great height. The Pilkington Planar™ system – the successor to the Suspended Assembly System – has been used to create glazed surfaces taller than 230′ tall (70 meters). This is why it is the choice of many of the nation’s top glaziers such as W&W Glass, LLC.

 

The rapid development in glazing technology we have seen in recent years, and its incorporation into structural glazing systems in particular, has resulted in big steps forward in terms of what can be achieved. It’s not just aesthetically that glass has a leading role to play – it’s also vital to a building’s energy performance and the comfort of occupants. Glass technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, and architects are now able to specify a range of high-performance products into these point-supported systems that enhance the building envelope, from triple-silver Low-e coatings that can be incorporated into triple-glazed insulating glass units (IGUs) that greatly improve energy-efficiency to interlayers that offer enhanced sound attenuation, structural integrity, and security properties.

 

Canadian Museum of Nature - Photo 5
Triple-Glazed Low-e IGU Point-Supported Structural Glass Fin Wall Enclosure at The Canadian Museum of Nature “Queen’s Lantern”, Ottawa, Canada

 

The more advanced structural glazing systems become, the less visible metal is used in the design, allowing other architectural features to be showcased. For years, architects have stressed that less is more. In the most contemporary projects, this means designers can create striking, light-flooded spaces with an almost outdoor aesthetic, with the added benefits of excellent insulation and shielding out excessive heat and glare from the sun.

 

Architectural glass is known for aesthetic properties – its unique ability to transmit, refract, and reflect light. As new manufacturing and coating technologies emerge, glass will begin to play a more active role in regulating the environment inside buildings. Environmentally-responsive coatings would allow solar heat gain transmission to change throughout the day, and the seasons, in response to weather conditions. This would also bring aesthetic benefits, especially for windows that are only exposed to sunlight for a short period of time.

 

What if the glass could respond to the brief period of exposure by darkening, this would allow windows to deliver higher levels of transparency for the majority of the day? Does this sound familiar? This technology has, in fact, existed for more than 50 years and was first used in the lenses of eye glasses. Microcrystalline molecules of silver chloride or another silver halide are embedded in the glass. These molecules are transparent in visible light without a significant ultraviolet component – artificial lighting, for example. However, when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays in direct sunlight, the silver halide molecules undergo a chemical process that causes them to change shape and absorb a significant percentage of the visible light – so they darken. Once the glass is removed from strong sources of UV rays, the silver compounds return gradually to their transparent state.

 

This process has not yet become commercially viable at the scales needed for architectural glazing, but we could see this emerge in years to come. There is even the potential for glass to adjust its light transmission properties in response to air temperature, made possible by thermally responsive coatings – vanadium dioxide, for example. There is also early development of angular selectivity coatings which can block summer light from higher angles while transmitting winter sunlight from lower angles. This could allow problematic solar gain to be reduced without any change in the appearance of the glass from street level.  In the meantime, there are commercially-available technologies on the market like electrochromic tintable windows and photo-sensitive interlayers that can lighten and darken to at least control sun glare and heat gain. 

 

BIPV in Point-Supported Structural Glazing - ALM Brand, Denmark
BIPV in Point-Supported Structural Glazing – ALM Brand, Denmark

 

What about energy production? There are Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) products that can be readily integrated into structural glazing today. The goal for the future will be to continue to make it more transparent while improving its efficiency.

 

An ideal aesthetic for many architects is a free-standing wall of glass that provides physical separation while leaving the view completely unimpeded visually. To many, this would appear to be ultimate simplicity. These systems are out there in the market, but are very expensive for tall spans (without any glass fins, cables, or steel back-up structural support), requiring very heavy glass make-ups, challenging fabrication, limited sourcing options, intense logistical coordination, and heavy custom equipment for manipulation and installation. Will there be a way to increase the physical strength of the glass itself for these applications and reduce the thickness? Maybe at some point in the near future as emerging technology continues to develop, offering intriguing possibilities of what we may be able to soon achieve.

 

W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™ structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

An Entrance As Grand As Texas – The Dallas Cowboy Corporate Headquarters and Training Facilities

Everyone has heard the phrase that “everything is bigger in Texas” but Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones takes even that to another level. The sports complex now known as “The Star” is a collage of different buildings including Cowboys corporate office headquarters, training facilities, an indoor practice field, and a specialty retail, restaurant, and entertainment district. This project also includes a hotel (currently under construction) and a connection directly to the indoor stadium and team headquarters.

 

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys
Photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys

The headliner of the property is the Ford Center, the 12,000 sq. ft. indoor stadium which will be used by the Cowboys for practice and by local area football programs. The entire $1 billion development also will feature a sports medicine center, a fitness center that includes the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders studio, an exclusive members-only Cowboys Club, and thousands of feet of office space.

 

The main attraction begins with the Omni Frisco Hotel in the foreground and then the Cowboys headquarters building. The site will also have two outdoor practice fields and multiple parking garages. The new offices for “America’s Team” and training facilities require 80,000 square feet of a 500,000 square-foot building. The outdoor practice fields can be seen through the windows of Jerry Jones’ new office.

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys
Photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys

One of the most significant elements are the two transparent glass facades located at the headquarters entrance atrium and another looking out on one of the  practice fields. Manhattan Construction, Gensler, and the Jones family decided they only wanted the best for the point-supported feature areas of the main building, so they selected the Pilkington Planar™ system, supplied by W&W Glass. Alliance Glazing was contracted by Manhattan to handle the glazing installation for the project featuring approximately 175,000 square feet of cassette curtain wall, and approximately 8,500 square feet of custom tension rod and steel beam-supported structural glass walls, along with other scope items.

 

Photo courtesy of The Dallas News
Photo courtesy of The Dallas News

In addition to the  main building walls there were also two smaller walls on the multi-use structure. For all walls, the custom designs called for the glass to be hung on a set of cables and horizontal steel tube beams which required intricate coordination. The north and south walls wall spanned 90 feet tall utilizing an energy-efficient, ultraclear Pilkington Optiwhite™ low-iron Trosifol® SentryGlas® laminated glass with a Pilkington 66/33 ProT Low-e on the #2 surface. The make-up helps provide some glare control and shading for occupant comfort while reducing solar heat gain in the hot Frisco climate. The custom clad beams supported weight for every 16 feet of elevation. Inset outrigger arms actually “reached out” to grab the glass with Pilkington Planar™ 905 series countersunk fittings to hold the glass in place. The system itself wasn’t new, but the application of the technique was a new twist on the system design.

 

Behind the glass facades lie the team’s new corporate offices. The building itself is not fully occupied by the Cowboys executives and operations team, there is are an an eight-floor, 398,000-square-foot commercial office building space available for lease. Bank of America is the first of up to 10 corporate tenants expected to take office space inside the building.

 

 
Other interesting aspects of the complex include:
 
War Room: The Cowboys’ completely digital war room — where all the scouting and draft research occurs — this abandons traditional white boards for 15 high-tech 55-inch screens that can stream 16 different feeds. Two 98-inch multi-touch displays can even help scouts study draft prospects side by side.

 

Baylor Scott & White Sports Medicine Center: This 300,000-square-foot building is under construction but will house the state’s largest non-profit healthcare provider. The site will focus on injury prevention, research and wellness, and will also house an urgent care facility, outpatient rehab and more.

 

The club’s terrace overlooks the outdoor fields, and watching practice will be among the main attractions. Cowboy Club members will also have access to private meeting rooms, multiple dining options and the Cowboys Fit facilities, which include a rooftop pool. Among the club’s planned attractions are family-themed nights, game rooms, whiskey-tasting and watch parties. As shown by the “firework-like” visual art display seen though the transparent entrance in the video below, this campus will certainly make any tenant or visitor feel like a “star”.

 

 

W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™ structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

Investing In A Lasting Impression: Charles Schwab Lone Tree Offices

When looking for a firm to invest with, your first impression means a lot. Professional. Successful. Confident. These are all traits associated with the Charles Schwab brand. When the company decided to consolidate multiple Colorado offices to one location, they knew there were many options to consider to ensure future growth potential with clients and employee satisfaction.

 

The Schwab campus in Lone Tree, Colorado was designed to create a sustainable, visually appealing identity within the community. Situated for optimal solar orientation, the campus’ new buildings would be nestled into the existing site topography to optimize views of Mount Evans, Indian Peaks, Longs Peak, and the downtown Denver skyline in the distance. Landscaping would reflect the natural Colorado landscape, with native grasses, plants, and trees that tie into the surrounding prairie. In short, the company wanted the buildings to reflect more than just the brand. They wanted them to reflect the atmosphere and culture of the surrounding region.

 

The multi-national investment firm hired Fentress Architects to come up with a design that would not offend the natural beauty, use eco-friendly materials, and be highly functional for the 1,900 employees that would be using the 47-acre facility.

 

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One of the unique touches on the campus design was the use of a specialized, cable tension-supported jewel-box glass design for the facade of the main retail branch at the front of the premises. This portion of the project required a high degree of system engineering, coordination, and design due to the loading involved. The original subcontractor for the glazing was replaced on the project with the project team of Harmon Inc. (installer) and W&W Glass, LLC (structural glass system provider) to provide the expertise to supply and install this type of system.

 

Charles Schwab Lone Tree Office Campus - Photo 14For this project, the team utilized the Pilkington Planar™ system to create the tension cable wall and all glass vestibule that defines the look. These types of systems are different from average structurally-glazed aluminum curtain walls in many ways. One of the biggest differences is in the way the glass is supported. Aluminum curtain wall designs must be held together on all sides by a cap or from behind with structural silicone bonded back to vertical and horizontal mullions, whereas the point-supported structural glass systems are anchored only at specific points. Silicone is only used for a weather seal between the joints of point-supported glazing. Aside from enhanced clarity with the change in structure from aluminum box mullions to cables, there are other technical reasons why these systems are so different.

 

The stainless steel tension cable supports at the vertical joints are strung to the head and sill of the boundary structure to create locations to connect the point-supports to that will anchor the glass in place for dead load and limiting deflection under wind load. The main challenges with this type of system, versus traditional curtain wall, are resolving these high tension load forces into the building and limiting the edge deflection of the insulating glass units at the spacer to maintain a hermetic seal. This requires close coordination with the structural engineers and the glass engineers. The specifications on this project were to use a clear insulating glass units with HP 50/27 Low-e coating on the second surface (to provide high thermal performance) held in place with Pilkington Planar™ 905 Fittings. 

 

Charles Schwab Lone Tree Office Campus - Photo 3

 

 

W&W Glass frequently pushes the envelope beyond typical “glass in channel” type entryways that use glass side walls in framing and an opaque roof or exposed steel cage vestibule structure. They have the ability to create vestibules that can be seamlessly integrated into many types of point-supported structural glass wall systems to not detract from the highly transparent applications. Vestibules are the small interstitial spaces or passage ways that connect the exterior and interior environments. They serve as a transitional barrier from the weather outside. As contract glaziers, W&W Glass professionals recognize the important functionality of the vestibule and the desire by architects to make them as clean and transparent as possible, while being engineered to meet all structural loading and code requirements. 

 

Charles Schwab Lone Tree Office Campus - Photo 1

 

To keep exposed structure as minimal as possible, the sidewall glass and roof was constructed out of Pilkington Optiwhite™ Low-Iron SGP laminated glass panels cantilevered from the ground and supported by Pilkington Planar™ 905 fittings. A custom 316 stainless steel plate beam box door portal was installed to provide a place to connect the cables to above the door area only. Large loading is transferred from the portal header into the vertical legs and into large base plate anchors and embeds below the ground.

 

To complete the overall impression and reinforce the brand, the exterior signage was attached to Pilkington Optiwhite™ Low-Iron SGP laminated structural glass that was suspended from low-iron, laminated tempered glass fins. 

 

These facades are a sharp-looking solution to make the transparency of glass the stand-out feature. The site and buildings all incorporate sustainable materials and systems, targeting LEED Gold certification. In the end, these techniques allowed for the opportunity to turn the architect’s vision into something special… that crisply reflects the highest level of quality and the beauty of nature in the glass.  

 

Check out our profile on this project here

BizJournals.com also featured an article on this build – Read it here!

 

W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

Unique Structural Glass Applications

We’re no strangers to understanding that glass can be much more than just another cladding material. It has the ability to make a statement. The beauty of glass is something we’ve covered before, but there is a unique range of applications that go beyond purely the aesthetics of providing a view inside and out. Due to extreme levels of clarity, structural glazing may be so transparent that it may go unnoticed by design, or instead make a strong visual impact as the focal point of a building.


Using glass for art is nothing particularly new, but when you combine custom printed glass frit patterns with building facades, you can achieve something even greater. The Harlem Hospital Center in New York City is a great example of the kind of large scale structurally-glazed curtain wall project that uses digitally-printed fritted (silk-screened) glass to create an impressive work of art. The effect is heightened at night when the entire facade is backlit by the interior of the building.

 

 
 

The Elevated Acre Park Light Beacon, also located in New York City, is another great example of a unique structural glass application. Rising above the park, the glass-clad structure uses multi-colored backlighting against custom fritted glass panels to create an enticing aesthetic that prominently lights the park and transfixes the viewer.

 
 

 
 

Structural glass has applications within buildings. The Metlife Lobby Interior Wall uses low-iron laminated glass with a white silk-screened line pattern mounted onto stainless steel cables with custom point-support patch fittings. It creates an inviting lobby space between the escalators and the building entrance. The minimal amount of visible structure makes the wall appear to practically float in the space. The semi-transparency of the wall also prevents the two sections from being entirely closed off, retaining openness in the room while offering an acoustical benefit.

 
 

 
 

Structural glass can also be used to create large interior atrium lobby spaces. For example, the Pilkington Planar™ point-supported facade at 601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW in Washington, DC utilizes a structure of vertical stainless steel tension rods connected to a series of 87-foot horizontal steel pipe trusses (each fabricated and erected in one piece). The 9-story tall space utilizes monolithic low-iron glass. The enclosure is oriented at a southwest exposure and is highly transparent, letting a generous amount of daylight into the space. The lobby space is open and airy, serving as a direct connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

 
 

 
 

Glass has many more applications than just being a cladding element. With the right engineering competency, high quality fabricators and an experienced company at the helm, unique structural glazing system options are virtually limitless.

 
 

W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

Top 5 Structural Glass Misconceptions

There are a lot of misconceptions about point-supported structural glass systems out there. Having over 30 years experience in the structural glass business, we’ve heard a lot of reasons why structural glass systems are “value engineered” out of a project early on in the design phase from architects and contractors alike. If you’re a designer or a building owner interested in using structural glass systems, you’ve probably heard a few of these concerns yourself during project discussions. In this blog, we’ll have a look at the top five misconceptions about structural glass systems (counting down to the biggest misconception) to help put your mind at ease. This perspective is taken from the system manufacturer/installer’s point of view… someone that provides budgets for these every day. Experience says, “Ask more questions to become more knowledgeable. Don’t always believe the hype.”

 

5. Structural Glass Systems are Too Expensive!

 

How often have we heard this one? Cost is one of the first things that comes to mind when a consultant, general contractor, or construction manager looks at a potential component for the building. It can be tempting to throw out a square foot number on something that scares off the architect/client from using a particular type of system. However, it is important to understand that there are many factors that determine the price of a structural glass system. The module width and height, number of points of support, glass make-up (thickness and performance) required, back-up structure, etc. are all important factors to understand. These factors should be considered based on project requirements like wind load, live load deflections, seismic criteria, maximum snow drift load (if a canopy or skylight), acoustics, and any impact or blast resistance criteria before any budget pricing takes place. Many of these items can be quickly vetted out by a structural glass systems engineer before an arbitrary number is put on the table. Be sure to speak with a point-supported structural system manufacturer on approximate rough budget costs before going too far down the road with details. They can best advise you of potential cost savings measures by modifications in design if there is a budget range in mind. System pricing can vary greatly depending on requirements. We can help advise of the best solution within a prescribed budget.

 

Additionally, glass types and make-ups are rated at different optical and thermal performance levels. Finding the one that is right for your project depends on the unique requirements of the building. For example, the type of glass you choose can strike a balance with visible light transmittance, thermal performance, and the type/size of HVAC mechanical heating and cooling systems used. This trade-off may provide a cost savings in building overhead and maintenance by downsizing the HVAC system by using a slightly more expensive high-performance coated structural glass make-up. It also depends on the amount of glass. A project that uses a larger amount of structural glass area will have a better economy of scale on a cost per square foot basis. It’s all a balancing act.

 

This is why it’s important to have a system supplier on board early in the design process. At the very least, making a call or exchanging an email with some sketches with a supplier to discuss up front budgets can put to rest many fears about the cost of these systems.

 

4. I’ll Just Spec the Same Glass I Have in the Aluminum-Framed Curtain Wall for the Point-Supported Structural Glass in the 088000 Specification Section to Match.

 

It can be tempting to use the same glass that you’ve already specified elsewhere, but it is important to understand that structural glazing components are inherently more expensive than standard curtain walls. The rigors put on point-supported glass to limit deflection and stress at specific points without risking breakage at the holes or fittings are much higher than the edge loads of that on a continuously supported unit backed up with aluminum mullions. Structural glass requires much heavier make-ups than typical one-inch insulating glass units. Often the outer lite needs to be stiffened using ⅜” or ½” glass and there are special “bosses” that transfer the load through the holes. The whole unit needs to be flexible to a certain degree while maintaining the air seal. In the event of over deflection, the PIB sealant shears allowing condensation to form inside; this is also known as a seal failure. It’s very important to make sure the glass and fittings are manufactured and engineered together to help prevent these types of issues.  

 

 

 

Above: Photo of Pilkington Planar “boss” in an insulating glass unit.

 

Each project requires different kinds of glass. Coating and size availability, required thicknesses, product sourcing, roller-wave flatness (optical distortion), fabrication tolerances, interactions with fittings, and system warranties are all important aspects of structural glass that you have to take into consideration. We recommend using a separate spec section. Section 089700 can be used for the structural glass wall system specification, which should include glass type and make-ups as it is integral to a complete system warranty. The Pilkington Planar System™ carries a 12-year complete system warranty covering design, engineering, materials and labor. It’s one of the most comprehensive in the industry. Other manufacturers may offer only component warranties on glass, fittings and engineering separately or offer other coverage durations. Be sure to ask to get a sample warranty to better understand exactly what is covered by the vendor.

 

Again, you won’t know the kind of glass your project requires until you speak with a structural glass system supplier. This will prevent major problems later in the bid phase due to increased glass thicknesses and system costs. Each vendor will do their own calculations in most cases, but it is important to get an idea going in from a budget and design standpoint.

 

3. I Don’t Want to Draw in Anyone’s System Details. The Details Will Show the Intent Only.

 

Point-supported systems like Pilkington Planar™ are designed specifically on a case by case basis to be tailored to individual project requirements. Therefore, not all projects use the same fittings. They are customized as required, but work off of a similar design concept. Without discussing the project with a structural glass vendor, it is entirely possible that your design may not be possible as envisioned.

The design principles for the Pilkington Planar™ are proven through in-house and independent laboratory testing. Be sure you review test reports from structural glass system manufacturers to verify these systems meet or exceed the design criteria for your project. If these reports are not satisfactory or readily available, be sure to require that specific tests be performed in the specifications. This will ensure you are receiving the highest quality product to limit potential liabilities down the road.

 
  

2. I Want a Competitive Bid. I Need to Include Multiple Glass Suppliers in the Spec.

 

A common line of thinking is that you choose a company to do all the design work and budgeting, and then pick three or four other structural glass suppliers as alternates that meet specifications. The problem with this thinking is that the vendors may not always be qualified to meet all of the same system requirements specified. More often than not, they don’t meet all of the requirements, so be sure to do some research to check them out. There are many companies that only make components (glass, fittings, structure) and then subcontract out engineering services or vice versa. If this is the case, how can you know who is really responsible for manufacturing the “system” if there is an issue? Is it the glass manufacturer, the fitting supplier, the engineer or the installer?  

 

Do your homework to make sure the quality level of the bill of goods expected to be installed on the project is what they actually get. Make sure the list of approved manufacturers specified meet all of the criteria of the basis of design. This isn’t as easy as picking names out of a directory or performing a Google search for “structural glass”.

 

When glaziers bid a specified structural glass system, they are usually looking to have a fully fabricated and engineered package to install. There is a high degree of risk in attempting to bid an unspecified product, let alone the additional time it takes to cobble together a system and get it tested to pass to meet spec in most cases. If a substitute was proposed and rejected or the quality level installed was not acceptable, they may not get paid until approved or replaced with an acceptable product. They bear the ultimate risk being accountable for providing systems per the bid contract construction documents. Their livelihood is based on providing a properly warranted product installation that meets owner expectations to help them to secure the next project.

 

Unfortunately, in this day and age, we have seen glaziers come and go. Even long-term businesses have closed their doors due to tough economic conditions. A structural glass system warranty from a glazier, usually covering only a few years, will certainly not suffice in most cases. You want to make sure the system is warrantied by a reputable manufacturer that can stand behind it for many years to come.

 

1. Glass is Glass and Structurally Glazed Systems Look Pretty Similar.

 

This is one of the biggest misconceptions in the glass industry that is shared by many people inside and outside of the architectural community. In essence, yes, all glass products act as a translucent enclosure or cladding to keep the weather out. However, there are many differences in quality, performance, and perceived value. A great reference point in understanding these differences in fabricated glass products is by comparing two brands of cars like Kia versus  Cadillac. A Kia comes with many standard features. It can get you from point A to point B and comes with a warranty, but would you say it’s interchangeable for a Cadillac? Do they look and perform identical? Most people would say that they are not the same level of quality and performance. Even if some of the visual cues look similar from a distance, up close there are measurable differences. If you had said that they are identical, then you may be accepting any car someone can manufacture with a warranty.

 

The same can be said of fabricated glass. When looking at a feature glazing area of a building, do you want your clients to perceive a Kia… or a Cadillac. How about a Mercedes? There are many price points within the realm of structural glass that are heavily influenced by the design, back-up structure required, and budget. The quality level, however, must be specified so that you get that Cadillac or Mercedes perception. You get what you pay for in this regard, and it all depends on how you want to differentiate your building from the rest.

 

Structural glass is used almost exclusively for feature areas of projects where clients want a more transparent look from inside out and outside in. They don’t want large aluminum vertical mullions and horizontals, or additional steel supports coming across to break up spans. It’s an inherently more expensive option due to the face glass and back-up structure doing all of the work as mentioned above. These systems may look similar from a distance at night, but that’s not when most people are viewing these feature areas. Most are looking to utilize the atrium and lobby spaces during business hours. That’s where these transparent structural glass systems really shine.

Interior structural glass fin wall atrium at the AMC Theater in Los Angeles, CA (left). Interior curtain wall in the Overture lobby (right). Photo credit: Zane Williams Photography.
 

It needs to be visually appealing, distortion-free as possible, and crisply reflect the surroundings while providing a clear view inside and out. Since these systems use tempered glass for added strength, there will be roller-wave distortion that is inherent in the process. This can be controlled with the proper equipment and processing techniques.

 
 

 

 

Pilkington Planar structural glass at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, CA (left). Structural glass system with high visual distortion in NJ (right).

 

 

The fittings need to be kept as small as possible to minimize detection and should be spread out as far as possible to keep things light. Not all fittings from manufacturers are created equal and not all glass is tempered the same. We generally use ¾” exterior countersunk, flush bolts with the Pilkington Planar™ system to keep the fittings as small and unobtrusive as possible. Others may use larger disks and caps. Each manufacturer has its own design parameters and tolerances to be aware of.

 
 

 
 

Pilkington Planar system with flush countersunk bolt 905 fittings in Manhattan (left). Another structural glass system in Manhattan with spider castings and caps (right).

 

There is no doubt that there is a difference when it comes to the design and fabrication of standard glass in aluminum curtain wall versus custom tempered structural glass and fittings for point-supported glass systems. That’s why it is always important to discuss your options with a system supplier from the beginning. They can clear up any misconceptions about structural glass early on for your next project, and ensure you are receiving the highest quality product that meets the exact project requirements. If you have any other questions about structural glass systems or are looking for help on starting a project, feel free to contact us and we’d be glad to assist.

 

W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™  structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

 

Project Update #1: 10 Hudson Yards

It’s been over four months since we began installation at 10 Hudson Yards, and we’re excited to share some updates on the project! Most recently, the cables that will be supporting the glass panels were installed.

 

 
The above image shows the thickness and scale of one of the galvanized cables as they arrived on the site for installation. This cable will be one of five used for the Pilkington PlanarTM cable wall facade spanning from floors 6 to 21 of the Coach Atrium.
 
 

 
 
This image, looking up at 10 Hudson Yards, shows the cable being hoisted up the building for installation at the Coach Atrium wall. This cable wall area is a trapezoidal shape that is 207 feet tall at it’s highest point!
 
 

 
 
Above, workers begin tensioning the cables. Tension facades use high tensile cables or stainless steel rods to impose the loads of the facade on the main structure. This decreases the amount of solid structural elements visible on the project, therefore increasing the transparency of the facade.
 
 
 
 

This is what the Coach Atrium cable wall of 10 Hudson Yards looks like after multiple cables have been installed before the fittings and glass are put in place. A simplistic way of thinking of this procedure is that of stringing a tennis racket. A surrounding frame is built with cables brought across it and those cables are pulled tight and locked in place. These systems, however, impose tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds on the surrounding structure (depending on width of module and unsupported spans), often requiring large steel truss beams at the head and large reinforced embed plates in concrete or steel members at the base for tensioning off of.

 

Dubbed the largest construction project of its kind, the Hudson Yards project masterplan will include over 16 skyscrapers and 17,4400,000 sqft of office, residential and retail space stretched across twenty-eight acres on the Far West Side. We’re proud to be a part of this project and are excited to bring you more updates as the project moves forward!

In the next month, we’ll be setting fittings and installing the glass on this wall, as well as stringing cables on the lobby walls along located along the High Line. Keep an eye on our blog and social media for even more photos as we continue to work on this new historic project in New York City.


W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™ structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

What is HYBRID-WALL®?

If you’ve been following our blogs and other social media outlets, you may recognize the product name “HYBRID-WALL®.” In fact, you may have heard it quite a bit. Sotawall® HYBRID-WALL®  unitized curtain walls are a common product that W&W Glass utilizes on many of our projects in New York City and the surrounding boroughs.


As a refresher, a unitized curtain wall is a system that is composed of large pre-manufactured insulating glass units/infill panels that are glazed within a pre-assembled aluminum frame in a factory and then sent via truck to the construction site for installation. It is a great way to produce very high quality, repetitious panels for mid to high-rise projects that require fast building enclosure with extremely limited site layout space for erection. You may recognize some of our projects that utilize Sota’s unitized curtain walls such as 100 Park Avenue and 2628 Broadway in New York City.

 

 
 

Our exclusive partnership for the New York City area with Sotawall® allows us to design truly unique structures that meet the strictest requirements and specifications. Opening in 1989, Sotawall Inc. has over 25 years of experience in the pre-glazed, unitized curtain wall fabrication business. Their systems provide enclosure solutions to some of the most high-profile architectural designs in the market today.


Their proprietary HYBRID-WALL® systems can be utilized on new construction projects and building reclads. These curtain walls span slab to slab (connected at top or bottom) with a built-in slab edge cover panel, but are fully gasketed more like traditional unitized curtain wall in order to have a continuous air and water barrier. These perform much better than window wall system alternatives that only span in between floors and drain out at each floor level with a separate slab edge cover panel requiring critical seal areas at the head and sill without the same levels of redundancy. Many building consultants would agree that a system like HYBRID-WALL®, that has integrated vision and spandrel materials combined inside a single unitized panel, is a preferred choice over window wall and slab edge cover systems.

 
 
 
 

This alternative to window wall systems allows for more unique applications, thanks to its flexibility in design that allows larger expanses of glazing and flush external appearances. Each system meets high performance requirements for high-rise buildings, including meeting specifications for static air and water infiltration, dynamic water resistance, structural performance, and thermal performance. Additionally, Sota unitized HYBRID-WALL® systems can accommodate various infills such as terracotta, limestone, travertine or aluminum ranging in thickness from ⅛ inch to 1 ¾ inch.


Sotawall® recently launched a new website that directly showcases their fabrication and assembly plants, as well as highlights their strategic partners, including: W&W Glass, LLC, Karas & Karas Glass Company Inc., Haley-Greer, Inc., Union County Plate Glass, Architectural Wall Systems, and Alberta Glass. We are also proud to be prominently featured in some of their recent literature, including the work we’ve done for MiMA Tower at 440 West 42nd Street and The Lucida at 1269 Lexington Avenue. Make sure to check out their new website and keep an eye out for our projects!

 
 
 
 
W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

What is Structural Glazing?

Need a brilliant and cost-effective solution for contemporary glass design? Structural Glazing is your answer, systems that W&W Glass specialize in!

 

Structural glazing systems, in their simplest form, are types of curtain wall systems consisting of glass that is bonded or anchored back to a structure without the use of continuously gasketed aluminum pressure plates or caps. The glass can be comprised of monolithic, laminated, dual-glazed or even triple-glazed insulating glass units (IGUs). The back-up structure may use horizontal and/or vertical aluminum mullions or be a glass mullion, steel blade, cable or stainless steel rod. The interior and exterior may use extruded silicone/EPDM gaskets, or a wet sealed silicone depending on the system. This system creates a completely clean, flush exterior appearance while the interior members have many different options depending on design and budget.

 

So why would you want to go with a structural glazing system? Structurally glazed systems create a greater transparency than traditional captured systems. There are less visual interruptions due to the lack of metal on the exterior (and potentially the interior), creating a seamless, continuous glass look. Traditional captured curtain wall systems have pressure plates and caps that can conduct large amounts of heat in or out of the façade depending on the season. Since there is little to no exposed exterior metal, there is also less thermal bridging with structural glazing, saving on energy consumption costs. Now, let’s take a look at some of the different types of structural glazing systems in the market today.

 

 

A stick-built structural glazing system is one of the oldest and most conventional curtain wall types. It is assembled from similar components to that of a captured system, with the exception of an exterior aluminum pressure plate and cap with gaskets to hold the glass in place. It is either siliconed or toggle fastened in place on site depending on the manufacturer’s system. The toggled system glazing is predominantly shop fabricated to have either a channel bonded to the back of the glass with silicone, or to have the insulating glass spacer frame with a reveal to fasten to internally. These methods allow for dry fixing of the units on site to eliminate curing time. Otherwise, the systems that are wet sealed on site must have the glass temporarily clamped in place for 1-2 weeks to assure the silicone is fully cured before the exterior silicone weather seal is applied. Besides an exterior wet silicone/gasket seal, air and moisture control is achieved through what is called pressure equalization. Pressure equalization is a means by which air within the system located between the glass and aluminum mullions helps to drain water at each lite of glass (zone drainage) or at the base of the system (overall system drainage). These systems are often used for low-rise projects less than 15,000 sq. ft. of area, projects where the labor is less expensive, and projects with low repetition.

 

A unitized structural glazing system is a pre-assembled glazing system. Multiple glazing types and materials can be combined into one “unit” in a quality controlled shop environment. The glazing materials are siliconed in place and allowed to fully cure to give a similar flush exterior appearance to that of the stick-built system, without the concerns for weather conditions on site (as you should not silicone below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) and quality of sealant application on site by the tradesmen.  These units can be installed one panel tall and one panel wide or at times, two panels tall or two panels wide.  After the glass, spandrel materials, and anchors are glazed into unit frames within the shop, they are loaded onto flatbed trucks to be installed “just in time” at the job site. The units receive additional silicone/EPDM gaskets after they are set by crane from the outside, or from each floor to create the “stack joint”. The stack joint acts as the complete air and moisture barrier of the system allowing a weep at each floor. Unitized systems handle movement much better than most others because each panel is gasketed together to be able to move independently with the structure, and the additional movement capacity of the anchors. Generally, these systems are used on mid-rise to high-rise structures that are 20,000 sq. ft. and up where there is high repetition, tight job site access, and high installation labor costs.

 

 
 

Point supported glass systems are the most transparent structurally glazed systems available on the market today. They can be custom engineered to fit any opening. From the exterior, they have silicone sealants between the joints like other structurally glazed systems, but have far less obstructed views looking from the inside out and vice versa due to the elimination of vertical and/or horizontal aluminum mullions. When using glass fins as a vertical back-up structure, the whole façade can appear to be virtually transparent! Glass is held in at specific points using stainless steel fittings to transfer deadload and wind loads back to the structure. Most glass types are available for point supported glazing, including: insulating glass units, low-e coated glass, laminated glass, monolithic, etc. These glasses can be paired with a host of back-up structures to create vertical walls, roofs and skylights, canopies, elevator enclosures, or windscreens. There are many options available depending on design aesthetics, structure and budget constraints.

 

Vertical cable tension walls (sometimes also known as cable nets) are the thinnest point supported glass system structures that can make the tallest unsupported spans, but require the largest amount of load on the boundary structure and are usually the most expensive. There are also stainless steel tension structure systems that are deeper, but put less loads on the boundary structure; however, these systems have similar costs to that of vertical cable walls.  There can even be hybrid combinations of horizontal steel and cables/tension rods as well. Glass fin walls and glass on steel systems (steel tubes, plate beams, or pipes) are usually the least expensive option and put far less loading on the boundary structure. They do, however, require greater depth of the vertical members to resist loads. The depths can range from around one to four feet on average depending on spans and module widths. These custom designed systems allow for a lot of artistic creativity and flexibility from the design aspect. They are a great fit for an all glass entrance, lobby, atrium, cafeteria, or any other feature area of a building.

 

Are you ready to have a discussion about your project? Contact us today to speak with a professional!

 

W&W Glass, LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

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