Most Innovative Decorative Glass Project, Commercial Exterior

The Glasshouse at Chihuly Garden and Glass, Guardian Industries and Novum Structures LLC

Artwork © Copyright, Chihuly Studio, 2012, all rights reserved. Photos by Ben Benschneider.

The Glasshouse at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition in Seattle marries highly transparent architectural glass and a mullion-less structure with the beautiful art glass of Dale Chihuly to create a multifaceted decorative glass project. Architecture firm Owen Richards Architects called upon Novum Structures to design and build the 45-foot-tall, vaulted glazed structure. To maximize transparency, Novum selected a flush insulated version of a mullion-less glazing concept known as the Edge Clamped Glass System: an aluminum or stainless steel reinforcement for vertical, overhead and sloped glazing. The structural system consists of Novum’s Architecturally Exposed Steel System—a customizable system for large, noncomplex, geometrical glazing—braced by the Tension Rod System, used where no or minimal pre-stress is required.

The result of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories, the Glasshouse design draws inspiration from Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the Crystal Palace in London, according to Guardian Industries. The art glass installation within the Glasshouse is 100 feet long, representing one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures.

According to Guardian officials, Chihuly was very particular about the transmitted color of the interior art through the glass, wanting to ensure it wasn’t filtered, muted or changed. So, the design team spent a lot of time looking at the colors of the sculpture through the glass. There was also discussion about what the iconic Space Needle would look like when viewed from the interior of the building.

To meet Chihuly’s requirements—as well as those of the architect—the design team chose Guardian’s SunGuard SuperNeutral 62, incorporating 28,000 square feet of the glass into the structure. In addition to transparency, key glass aspects included meeting tough City of Seattle energy requirements, having NFRC-approved data, and providing the 8-millimeter low-E glass to meet wind and structural requirements.

The Glasshouse is expected to receive Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Glass fabricators for the project included Hartung Glass Industries and Northwestern Industries.