2017 Top Glass Fabricators: The Projects

Top Glass Fabricators perfect complex processes to produce unique solutions
Bethany Stough
February 27, 2017

Sun Catchers at Siesta Key Beach Pavilion
M3 Glass Technologies

Photo courtesy of M3 Glass Technologies.

M3 Glass Technologies fabricated five historical sun catchers—laminated digitally printed glass panels—for the Siesta Key Beach Pavilion in Sarasota, Florida. The architect's design called for the glass panels, each 45 3/16 inches by 61 3/8 inches, to serve as permanent public art installations that also provide facts about wildlife natural to the area, and conservation information. The glass design required several layers of digital printing, including two layers of text, a black opacifier layer with a graphic image and a color background image.

The project presented notable technical fabrication challenges to the M3 team. For example, precise and accurate alignment was critical to the glass printing, as the artwork features line images and text that the designer wanted to be visible from both sides of the glass. To prevent blurred lines or ghosting of the image, the M3 team had to ensure accurate printing alignment from layer to layer. To achieve the necessary look, the M3 project team launched two phases of printing to create the sun catchers.

First, they worked to match the unique colors for each panel and determined a method to allow the text layers to appear on both sides of the glass. “The light shades that the designer requested needed to be modified in printing so the black opacifier that was needed between the lighter shades did not overpower the color,” says Mike Pfaffenberger, technical manager, M3. “The opacifier was needed so that the white lettering could be printed on both sides of the display but would not be visible from the opposite side.”

M3 produced many samples, and met many times with the designer and installer, to ensure the right look.

Next, M3 began production. Because the panel design specified visible white text on a light background on both sides of the display, the team determined it most effective to print each layer of the design individually in order to avoid bleed through. The reverse text was printed first, then the unique color for that panel, then the black opacifier that also contained a graphic image, then the color background for the front of the glass, and finally the right reading text, according to Pfaffenberger. The printing was applied to 10-millimeter Vitro Starphire glass which was then tempered and laminated to another lite of 10-mm Starphire, tempered using SentryGlas interlayer.

Faour Glass Technologies installed the panels using its own custom hardware, helping to bring the project from concept to reality, M3 officials report. Kate Harrison was the project’s lead artist. The general contractor was Jon F. Swift Construction. The architect was Sweet Sparkman Architects.

Langara College Science and Technology
Garibaldi Glass

Photo courtesy of Garibaldi Glass.

The Langara College Science and Technology building in Vancouver, British Columbia, features a vertical glass oculus installed from the building's third floor through the fifth floor. The oculus is comprised of trapezium glass lites fabricated by Garibaldi Glass. The fragmented insulating glass units are butt-glazed side to side to form the vertical oculus. The oculus features two types of IGUs: one is comprised of 6-millimeter Eclipse Gold tempered, ½-inch black Argon spacer and 6-mm clear tempered; and the second is comprised of 6-mm Super Neutral 68 Ultrawhite tempered, ½-inch black Argon spacer and 6-mm clear tempered.

Each trapezium lite contains different angles and sizes. But, as each piece is very similar in appearance, trying to distinguish one lite from the next proved challenging for the Garibaldi project team, company officials report. Initially, orders were parsed into smaller quantities to have better control of production. But if there were rejects, the replacement had to be recut along with the other orders, mixing the recut glass with the next order, making it difficult to identify one batch from the next, according to Duane Rose, sales manager, Garibaldi.

To solve this issue, the team recalled a previous project with an elliptically shaped dome comprised of many triangular glass units with unique angles and sizes. During production of the dome, it was decided to process and digitize each lite, both interior and exterior with a marking that included a unique identification code on the bottom right corner of every piece, big enough to be legible, but small enough to be hidden under the customer’s standard sightline requirements of 7/16 inch.

“By being solution driven, Garibaldi made it easier for both the production team to schedule and manage production, save tremendous production time and cost, and provide the glazing client an easily identifiable means for installing each unique unit,” says Rose.

Teeple Architects and Proscenium Architecture + Interiors Inc., served as the architects of the building. Bird Construction Co. was the general contractor. The glass was manufactured by NSG Pilkington and Guardian Industries. Glastech Glazing Contractors Ltd., served as the contract glazier. Technoform Glass Insulation supplied the IG spacers.

Detroit Athletic Club Entrance
Glass & Mirror Craft

Photo courtesy of Glass & Mirror Craft.

A modern, multi-story point-supported glass entrance now welcomes visitors to the historic Detroit Athletic Club, a private social and athletic club in Detroit’s theater and entertainment district. Glass & Mirror Craft was tasked with designing the updated entrance that tied in with the Neo-Renaissance-style historic building.

“Designing and fabricating a new entrance to the Detroit Athletic Club required consideration of historic preservation while creating a dramatic and useful entrance to the club,” says Paul Kondrat, engineered products manager, Glass & Mirror Craft.

The entrance features a point-supported structural glass wall system with glass fins, using low-iron tempered and laminated glasses from Vitro, with SentryGlas interlayer. Glass & Mirror Craft designed and fabricated the glass and the custom-made metal bracketry for the façade.

“Tying the new structure into the historical building was challenging,” says Kondrat. “We had to accommodate the differential structural movement between both the building and the new system while maintaining a seal to the elements around the perimeter.”

Glass & Mirror Craft provided a workable solution by utilizing both fixed and slip connections through a structural steel hoop along the entire perimeter of the new structure. The glass walls and ceiling were fixed with silicone, but the structure is still able to move, according to Kondrat.

SmithGroupJJR designed the entrance. Sachse Construction was the general contractor. Edwards Glass Co. served as the project’s contract glazier. Cuda Architectural Metals (a division of GMC) fabricated all the custom brackets, structure and channel for GMC’s scope of the project.

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Stough is managing editor for Glass Magazine, GlassMagazine.com and e-glass weekly. Write her at bstough@glass.org.