Out of the box

Glass and steel floating sales office makes waves
Katy Devlin
November 24, 2008

Building or boat? The answer isn't clear with Lazzara's new floating sales office.

The design team at Lazzara Yachts, Tampa, prides itself on developing innovative crafts for their customers. The team continued in that out-of-the-box spirit while designing the company’s new sales office—a 3,800 square foot glass, steel and fiberglass barge.

View a photo gallery of the glazing installation

“The concept was to build a fiberglass barge and design it stylistically to look similar to our yachts," says Joe Lazzara, industrial designer for the company. "Then, we created a glass cube around it. We wanted to create a sales center that would provide an interactive experience where customers could see the products and learn more.”

Practically, the 40-foot-by-90-foot half vessel, half building, will serve as Lazzara Yachts’ sales office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. However, the company also will “sail” the barge to boat shows year-round. The mobile office will save the company time and money in the future during events, Lazzara says. “Typically at these boat shows, companies rent floating docks, rent tents and build temporary structures," he says. "It’s very labor intensive and costs a lot of money. We’ll use our mobile sales center instead.”

The barge, measuring 2,100 square feet on the main floor and 2,100 square feet below the water line, features a movie theater, ballrooms, state rooms, a full cafeteria and offices for the sales staff. “We’re working on adding a helipad,” Lazzara says.

The floating sales office also offers structural safety.

“The Lazzaras couldn’t decide whether it was going to be a vessel or a building, and I’m not sure if they’ve figured it out yet,” says Glen Kreitzer, president , Kreitzer Glass Products Corp., Bradenton, Fla. So, the project was designed and engineered to meet the toughest standards for each, including Florida’s stringent hurricane building codes.

Lazzara floating office

The barge features 9/16-inch insulating and laminated impact glass fabricated by Nashville Tempered Glass, distributed by Kreitzer Glass Inc. The unit features a laminated pane with one lite of clear heat-strengthened glass, an interlayer and a lite of grey heat-strengthened glass, a 1/2-inch airspace, and a lite of ¼-inch glass with a low-emissivity coating on the No. 2 surface.

YKK AP America Inc., Dublin, Ga., supplied its YHC 300 OG curtain wall. According to the company's Web site, the outside-glazed system is designed to resist cyclical pressures and projectile impacts from hurricanes. The system was applied to 3/8-inch wall steel tubing with Bildex 1/2-inch 20 Climacoat fasteners with EternaBond two-face accelerator tape. YKK also supplied its 35H doors with concealed Jackson ADA compliant closures with stainless steel fasteners.

“Since this type of project had never been attempted before, there were many challenges from design to engineering to installation,” says Mike Downs, president of Sarasota, Fla.-based Downs Glass, the contract glazier on the job. “This was the first time someone had attempted to put a curtain wall or storefront on a floating barge.”

In most installations, glaziers can move around a building as they work in different areas. With the barge, the team had to work on two docks on either side of the vessel. “We had to use lifts and other heavy equipment parked on an 8-foot and 12-foot dock surrounding the barge,” Downs says. “There were also approximately 30 different trades all working at the same time, and construction took place 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”


  • Joe Lazzara, industrial designer, Lazzara Yachts, Tampa, 813/839-0090
  • Michael Downs, president, Downs Glass, Sarasota, Fla., 941/955-6369
  • Glen Kreitzer, president of Kreitzer Glass Products Corp., Bradenton, Fla., www.kreitzerglass.com/contact.htm
  • Gavin Gaskins, president, Nashville Tempered Glass, 800/228-3729

Officials at Nashville Tempered Glass also had to take the dockside installation into consideration while packaging the units for the project, says Glen Gaskins, president.

“There was concern about how it was going to be glazed in terms of logistics and packing," Gaskins says. "We had to keep the glass together so that the glaziers could get to the [units] that they needed, with the barge as it was, positioned in the water. This barge was out in the water. The team couldn’t drive around it. They had to work in one spot on the docks and set the glass.”

Time was a huge factor for glass companies on the project, Kreitzer says. Lazzara Yachts came up with the concept during April and wanted the barge to be ready for the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in late October. Construction began at the end of July. “It went from start to finish in a few months, which is kind of unheard of,” Kreitzer says.

The short turn-around time wasn’t a problem for Nashville Tempered Glass. Gaskins says his facility is positioned to operate under quick lead times. “We had the job done in 10 to 12 working days,” he says.

Downs says about 30 trades were working “24 hours a day, seven days a week” to complete the project in time. “It was a learning experience. We all had to work together, from architect, engineer, to journeymen and laborers,” Downs says. “The pace of installation was very fast. When we look back and take that into account, we are amazed that it only took us six weeks to complete a project that had never been attempted or realized before.”

Katy Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at kdevlin@glass.org.