All-Glass System Showcase: Applications and Challenges

Examples of All-Glass Systems

Module 24 (Introduction to All-Glass Systems) walked you through some examples of All-Glass products. In this short article, we share some useful links to examples that showcase All-Glass system applications and their associated challenges.

Example #1: The see-through office

This article showcases the new Stoel Rives (a law firm) HQ in Portland. The design features interior glass walls to allow natural light into the center of the plan and create a more collaborative environment. It also mixes glass doors and panels with timber framing to provide a unique aesthetic.

The use of glass panels and doors in interior office spaces is becoming more and more popular, in large part because it allows architects to design small spaces while maintaining the appearance of openness. Interior glass designs also give building owners and property managers flexibility to reconfigure office spaces quickly when tenants need to reorganize or when a new tenant moves in.

The new Google HQ, currently under construction, takes this concept to an extreme with large translucent glass canopies between block-like structures that are designed to be moved around easily as the company invests in new product areas. The canopies provide the added benefit of controlling climate while allowing light and air to travel freely.

Of course, All-Glass interiors introduce some challenges (that are too-often overlooked). For example, sound bounce and leakage need to be accounted for to avoid creating a distracting office environment. However, these problems have relatively simple solutions. Adding noise-absorbing materials such as wall fabric, carpet tile, or area rugs will greatly reduce echoes. Using thick glass (half-inch at a minimum) and sealing joints also helps. And Sound-masking technology to improve speech privacy and acoustics is another option.

For visual privacy, there are various options, ranging from traditional window films to “cloaking” film that prevents onlookers from seeing information such as numbers or letters on computer or projector screens. Other options include opaque laminated glass and “switchable” glass that electronically darkens the panes on demand.

See the article for more important details.

By the way, the entire Building Design and Construction website is an amazing resource for staying on top of industry news. Be sure to bookmark it!

Example #2: Safety in All-Glass buildings

Robson Forensic has a knack for investigating very specific issues. In this case, Anthony Shinsky, an architect and premises safety expert, delves into the world of glass liabilities.

This article is an important resource for the safety features (or lack thereof) of various glass types and the building codes that you need to familiarize yourself with. It also discusses injury prevention, which is a critical concern for every project.

Interestingly, way back in the 1960s, there was recognition that float glass (which tends to break into sharp and pointed shards) was a dangerous product, but it was still widely used — even where human impact loads were common. As a result, more than 300,000 people a year were being injured by float glass impact incidents. In response to this high incident frequency, glass safety standards were developed and many states started requiring safety glazing in certain areas.

Today, we have safer options such as safety glazing; heat strengthened, laminated, and tempered glass; and ceramic, plastic, and polymer products. These are all less likely to break on impact and less likely to cause serious injury if broken. For example, heat strengthened and tempered glass breaks into rounded cubes rather than sharp shards.

But even these new products can be dangerous when used in the wrong applications or in certain locations. Read the full article for more details.

Example #3: The benefits of decorative window film

This article explores the many benefits of outfitting glass interior walls with decorative window film. The main reason window film is used is to increase privacy while maintaining the benefits of glass, such as increased energy efficiency and natural light. But there are other benefits of window film that are important to understand.

Window films can be used in many different ways for many different applications. Of particular relevance today, due to the coronavirus and the recession, is the fact that window films are excellent products for renovation projects (when economic growth slows or goes negative, we have historically seen renovations increase while new construction decreases).

One of the best features of window film is that it’s easily removable — with no sticky residue left behind. Check out the article for more details!