Great Glazing: Madera County Courthouse

The basics: Architects of the new Madera County Courthouse in Madera, California, looked to echo the landscape of the surrounding Yosemite Valley in the design and material choices for the 111,500-square-foot building. In addition to the Sierra White granite in the central atrium, and wood-wrapped interior walls in the lobby, the building is highlighted by a “waterfall-like” structural glass wall.

“The project had challenges with working in confined spaces; interior soffits are very close to the structural glass wall which impeded access during installation, as well as when installing the structural sealant on the structural glass wall,” says John Smith, Fresno operations manager for glazing contractor Giroux Glass. “Another challenge was the weight of the glass as well as the weight of the structural steel posts that were installed behind the structural glass walls. Installing large, heavy glass with a crane and working off of boom lifts in confined spaces was extremely challenging.”

The project is designed to meet LEED Silver and features bullet- and fire-resistant glass for safety.

The players: Architect, AC Martin; general contractor, Gilbane Building Co.; contract glazier, Giroux Glass; structural glass wall supplier, Sentech Architectural Systems; curtain wall and entrance door systems supplier, EFCO Corp.; glass fabricator, Northwestern Industries; glass manufacturer, PPG Industries; structural glass supplier, Xinyi Glass; glass entrance system supplier, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope; fire-rated glass and frames supplier, Technical Glass Products; fire-rated glass supplier, Vetrotech; bullet-resistant glass supplier, Global Security Glazing

The glass and systems: The structural glass wall features a custom curtain wall system with insulating, laminated low-emissivity glass. Each unit weighed between 500 and 700 pounds. The southwest face of the building features 1-inch to 2-inch glass units with bullet-resistant and fire-rated glass (rated 30 to 120 minutes). The glass is insulating and features PPG Solarban 70 low-E coating.