Great Glazing: The Langham Hotel

The basics: The 52-story Chicago landmark building known as IBM Plaza, designed by Mies Van der Rohe, is now home to the luxury Langham Hotel. Architect Richmond Group's design challenge was creating a series of interiors in character with Langham’s traditional design sensibility, but set in a Mid-Century modern building.

“We wanted to emphasize the extensive use of glass on the façade to deliver an individual and innovative design, which reflected the linear elements of the existing architecture,” said Deborah Bray, associate at Richmond Group.

Richmond was able to cut new spaces into the Miesian plan to create double height ceilings throughout the main public spaces to allow light and cityscapes to become part of the interior architecture.

The players: Architect, Richmond International; general contractor, Lend Lease; glass manufacturer, Pilkington NSG; glass fabricator, GlasSource; glazier/metal systems supplier, Alliance Glazing Technologies.

The glass and systems: Langham Hotel officials wanted to use glass specifically in the hotel lobby to maintain views across the double-height space. To pull the lobby space and the vision together, while maintaining an acoustic barrier, Alliance Glazing Technologies installed three-story structural glass curtain walls. The entire perimeter of the second-floor mezzanine overlooking the main lobby is detailed with a double laminated beveled glass and mirror panel surround framed in brass. The multi-sized small pieces of beveled glass create a prismatic effect, casting an array of color throughout the floor.

The bevels and the monolithic panel had to be extremely flat for the bond to work. Also, the tolerances on the overall size of each panel had to be CNC-controlled to maintain the pattern and alignment and allow for the insertion of the individually cut and fit brass strips between each panel. The composite glass panels consist of a 3/8-inch Pilkington Optiwhite low-iron glass panel on the No. 1 surface with ¼-inch low-iron beveled panel UV-bonded to the face. Alliance assembled the bonded panels into the satin brass bar framework and adhered them to the back glass between the beveled panels.