Glass House

Glass House is a fitting name for the 23-story condominium completed summer 2007 in Denver. The two-tower structure is wrapped in slab-to-slab glass, providing residents on any side breathtaking views of mountain peaks or the city skyline with zero sightlines. The project didn’t come without difficulties.

“One main challenge in this project was developing metal systems that would handle the thermal requirements of this climate,” says Greg Chestnut, president for the contract glazier on the project, El Paso Glass - Denver Inc.
To meet city requirements for energy and condensation, system supplier Kawneer Co. of Norcross, Ga., adapted several of its systems for the project.

“To successfully use a commercial envelope on a residential building, the product performance and engineering has to be virtually flawless,” says Pat Murray, sales representative for Kawneer. “Residential interiors can have 10 times the humidity that commercial interiors do, simply from to day-to-day activities like laundry, cooking, bathing, etc. The goal is to control the elements in a way that won’t affect the inhabitants and that is also cost-effective.”

Kawneer supplied several curtain wall and window systems for the project, all modified to fit the environment, including its 1600 Wall System 4 with an IsoStrut Thermal Break, the AA 3900 Thermal Slider, 2000T Terrace Door and 350 Custom Doors.

Viracon of Owatonna, Minn., fabricated the glass for the project, supplying its high-performance insulating VRE-46 on blue-green glass, and insulating VRE-59 on blue-green glass.

Chestnut says his glaziers faced on-site challenges during installation.

“The interesting thing about this job is that everything is all inside set. We never had to get on the outside of the building,” Chestnut says.

While his team had done some inside set installations in punched windows, they had never installed a floor-to-ceiling curtain wall using the method. “There was a learning curve for us. We started on the smaller south tower, so the larger north tower went very smooth,” Chestnut says.

El Paso Glass operated three teams on the job, one to install the thermal receptors, a second to set the frames and a third to glaze from the interior.

Preston Partnership of Atlanta was the architect on the job, and East West Partners of Denver the building manager. The construction manager was Wood Partners of Salt Lake City, and the general contractor was J.E. Dunn Construction Co. of Denver.