Structural glass facades often make use of different materials and processes than the conventional facade.
Cables, Rods, Castings & Machined Components
In addition to the glass and structural systems that comprise structural glass facade technology are the components that in turn comprise these systems — components quite unlike those typically used in exterior wall systems. The use of tensile elements in the form of steel cables and rods is a primary design strategy to dematerialize the structure and enhance the transparency of a facade design. Compression elements are frequently minimized or eliminated, and where present are crafted from cast and machined components in an elegant expression of exposed structure. The fittings and components that tie these structural members together are similarly crafted. Here an entirely different set of material and process considerations come into play.
The Enclos design team has mastered these materials and processes as a necessary prerequisite to their appropriate application in component design. We can develop and provide custom designs of remarkable diversity in response to your particular project needs. Where appropriate, we can also source off-the-shelf components from a variety of suppliers, all carefully qualified to Enclos standards and subject to our uncompromising quality assurance program. All this, from concept design through installation, as part of a single-source package from the largest national specialist in structural glass facade technology.
Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel (AESS)
The art of steel. Structural glass facades are not simply about transparency. Often the designer seeks to express the structural system supporting the facade, sometimes even at the expense of transparency. What is necessarily required here is a level of craftsmanship that extends far beyond what is found in conventional structural steel.
The AISC specification for Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel (AESS) is often applied to structural glass facade designs. These designs frequently include exposed structural systems in high profile public areas, such as building lobbies and atria, and as long-span facade systems in airports, museums, and government buildings.
The AESS spec is intended to provide the designer a means to control the visual quality of structural steel used in such applications. However, this specification is no panacea to the problem of communicating the requirements for visual quality such that the same expectations are shared by all relevant parties. An AESS Supplement published by Modern Steel Construction states, “Unfortunately, existing codes and standards — even AISC’s Code of Standard Practice — do not fully address the unique level of detail needed to successfully design, detail, fabricate and erect Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel (AESS).”
Enclos has designed and provided many AESS structures as part of its custom facade work. We understand the demanding design, fabrication, assembly and installation requirements involved in the successful implementation of this specification, and we can bring this valuable capability to your team.
The weather seal in most structural glass facade systems is provided by a field applied butt-glazed silicone joint. This technique provides a reliable and durable weather seal if simple procedures are followed during installation. An advantage of this sealing strategy is that any leaks, usually caused by installation errors, are easily detected and repaired. The joint design is critical, and is largely a function of the glass makeup and thickness. Compatibility between the field-applied silicone and the interlayer, if using laminated glass, or the edge seal in the case of an IGU, must be confirmed with the silicone material provider. The provider should also be consulted about the joint design. Craftsmanship is critical for the field application of the sealant to assure a visually satisfactory result.