Log structural glass art installation pushes design envelope

Photo top by Andrew Becker; photo right by Chaviva Galatz.

"By far the hardest part in bringing this to reality is that the installation of this fairly serious piece of structural glass had to be completed in only six hours in the middle of the night. We were building in the middle of Union Square New York City, and the organizers could only give us from 1 a.m. until 7 a.m. the day before it had to open. In the end, the installers from David Shuldiner got it up in only five hours. I have to tell you that it was quite an emotional moment when the 2,000-pound log sat on the glass and it worked." — Michael Ludvik, structural engineer, M. Ludvik Engineering PC, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The basics:The Log, a striking sculpture of structural glass supporting a 2,000 pound log, was a finalist in the Sukkah City 2010 competition in New York City. The international design competition challenges entrants to create structures to commemorate the temporary structures that the Israelites dwelled in during their exodus from Egypt, according to the Sukkah City Web site. Twelve finalists, including the Log, were chosen out of more than 600 entries from 43 countries to be built in one night and stand in New York City's Union Square on Sept. 19 and 20. The Log sculpture consists of four pieces of glass, with no other columns or supports, topped by a cedar trunk. The Log was "also a demonstration of the compressive strength of glass. Glass never breaks in compression, only in tension. It is perverse not to use glass as a column," Ludvik says. Read more about the competition and its guidelines.

The players: Architect, Abrahams May Architects, New York City; structural engineer, M. Ludvik Engineering, Brooklyn, N.Y.; glass fabricator, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Santa Monica, Calif.; metalwork provider, FACE Design + Fabrication, Brooklyn; interlayer supplier, DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions, Wilmington, Del.; woodwork supplier, John Houshmand, New York City; installer, David Shuldiner Inc., Brooklyn.

The glass and systems: 1-inch low-iron tempered glass laminated with SentryGlas interlayer. Custom-engineered hardware, an oversized piano hinge made from ¾-inch carbon steel plate, and a cruciform metal base of carbon steel. "This competition was in part a design move away from the traditional complexity and stainless steel, and toward simplicity with carbon steel," Ludvik said. "It is our opinion that the world of glass hardware is due for a shakeup."