Most innovative decorative glass project, commercial

Harlem Hospital, General Glass International

The recently completed Harlem Hospital in New York City, with its mural glass façade, has the “wow effect,” says Crystal Achievement Award Judge Mark Pritikin, president, Creative Mirror & Shower, Addison, Ill. The building’s façade consists of 429 individually printed panes of glass that make up a historic mural design.

“We wanted to create a front façade that was an all-glass curtain wall enlivened with a series of historic murals describing the migration story of African-Americans coming to the United States, from slavery through the Harlem Renaissance,” says Christopher Korsh, principal in healthcare for project architect HOK, New York City, in a General Glass International, Secaucus, N.J., release. “We had preliminary ideas about how to make this happen, but we had to begin research on how to get a full-color image as part of a curtain wall. We looked at a number of different technologies, but some were beyond the budget parameters and others gave us worries about longevity and quality.”

In the end, HOK chose General Glass International to fabricate the mural glass using the company’s Alice digital, direct-to-glass printing technology. The large-scale decorative project wasn’t without challenges. “There were a lot of issues,” says David Balik, GGI president, in the release. “This is a corridor, with people passing through looking out onto the street scene. … It had to look good in daylight from outside, look good in daylight from inside, and look good at night from inside and outside. To make it work, we had to constantly assess opacity, ink, consistency between panels, registration, framing and budget.”

J.E. Berkowitz LP, Pedricktown, N.J., was the mural glass laminator and insulating glass supplier, and W&W Glass, Nanuet, N.Y., served as the glazing contractor. PPG Industries, Pittsburgh, was the glass manufacturer. The insulating glass units are 1 5/16 inches wide, with the decorative Alice lite tempered and laminated to a low-iron PPG Starphire lite on the exterior, and a lite of PPG Solarban solar control, low-emissivity glass on the interior.

The project received numerous comments from the Crystal Achievement Award judges. “GGI’s Alice digital glass printing clearly brought to life the Harlem Hospital glass façade using technology that only a few short years ago would have been both cost and design prohibitive,” says Les Young, project manager, W&W Glass. “The advancement in glass printing technology will continue to open the doors to future complex façade art.”

CAA Judge Rob Struble, manager of Brand & Communications Strategy for PPG Industries, adds, “A wonderful addition to the community, this mural is meaningful on so many levels. It provides energy performance in addition to the bigger-than-life art work. I have to believe the size and scope of this mural—all on glass—alone merits special consideration.”