Structural Glass Components
Another technique to dematerialize the structure and enhance transparency in long span facades is to substitute glass components for conventional metallic components. The most common examples of this are glass fin supported facades, popularized by the glass wall for the Willis Faber & Dumas building designed by Foster Associates in 1972. A glass fin, monolithic or laminated, is positioned perpendicular to the glass plane at the vertical glass seam to stiffen the wall against wind loads. Early systems utilized a patch fitting to attach the glass, effectively restraining the glass at its corners while providing for building and thermal movement. Contemporary systems commonly use drilled glass panels and countersunk stainless steel fittings to fix the glass to the fin.
Recent structures have begun to incorporate glass beam elements in a more innovative manner. In the example pictured here, a laminated glass beam spans between truss elements to provide transparent support to the glazing grid.
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