Art in the forefront, and on the façade, at Harlem Hospital

Image by HOK.

"There were a lot of issues. This is a corridor, with people passing through looking out onto the street scene. So HOK had three primary objectives: it had to look good in daylight from outside, look good in daylight from inside, and look good at night from inside and outside. To make it work, we had to constantly assess opacity, ink, consistency between panels, registration, framing, the budget.”—David Balik, president, General Glass International.

The basics: New York’s HOK architecture firm won the competition to redesign Harlem Hospital with their design that used the front glass façade to depict a series of historic murals describing the migration story of African Americans coming to the United States—from slavery through the Harlem Renaissance, according to a release from General Glass International. The image depicted on the glass façade is a representation of a series Works Progress Administration murals from famous African-American artists originally painted in throughout the hospital in 1936. The design was printed on the glass using GGI's Alice digital, direct-to-glass printing technology. The project is targeted for completion in the second quarter of 2010.

The players: Architect, HOK, New York; mural glass supplier, General Glass International, Secaucus, N.J.; mural glass laminator, insulating glass supplier, J.E. Berkowitz LP, Pedricktown, NJ glazing contractor, W&W Glass, Nanuet, N.Y.; glass manufacturer, PPG Industries, Pittsburgh.

The glass and systems: The mural façade is made up of 429 individually printed panes of glass. The insulating glass units are 1 and 5/16-inch wide, with the decorative Alice lite tempered and laminated to a low-iron PPG Starphire lite on the exterior, and a lite of PPG Solarban solar control, low-emissivity glass on the interior.