Opportunities with Insulated Glass
Compromise is often called for in the pursuit for transparency. Energy concerns often mandate the use of insulated glass panels, which are inherently less transparent than a simple single sheet monolithic panel. In addition, the seam formed by the sealant joint between two insulated glass panels combines with the spacer separating the inner and outer glass in each panel, this total dimension comprising an opaque band around each glass panel in the final installation. The visual effect of this opaque band significantly impacts the visual aesthetic of a glass wall using insulated glass verses monolithic glass, rendering the insulated glass façade somewhat less transparent, independent of other considerations such as the supporting structure. Given the frequent necessity of insulated glass as a performance requirement, designers have discovered that they can add thin metallic framing elements to the glass panel without significant further compromise of transparency. The frame components are structurally glued to the back of the glass panel. The panel is then point fixed off the framing element and tied back to the supporting structure. In this condition conventional glass can be used, as the glass itself is not subject to point loading.
The great benefit here is that the glass plane can be lifted off the supporting structure as it is with most structural glass systems, significantly enhancing the apparent transparency of the glass structure. The premium cost associated with drilled and point-fixed glass s avoided. The result is transparency that rivals that of the most expensive structural glass facades at a significantly reduced cost. This framed or panelized strategy also facilitates field assembly over the drilled glass systems, further improving the economic efficiency of this system type.
An example of this approach is pictured here; a constructing shot of a glass façade and skylight for the Securities and Exchange Commission Corporate Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The lobby area is enclosed by a double-curved glass façade joined by a curved triangular truss to a double-curved skylight. Insulated glass is used in a prefabricated panelized system. Skylight glass assemblies are insulated and laminated as required by code for overhead glazing.
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