The Glass Facade Guide for Architects _ What You Need to Know

The Glass Facade Guide for Architects

A glass facade has the power to transform the aesthetic and function of a building. Glass has the ability to cast light with precision while creating inviting and stunning spaces. Beyond appearance, glass serves a vital role in thermal and energy regulation, as well as a building’s security and functionality. This article offers a comprehensive architectural guide to glass facades and how Novum Structures has implemented them around the globe.

The Background Information on Glass Facades

What is a facade in architecture? A glass facade is a type of architectural envelope that consists primarily of glass panels and provides an exterior skin to a building. It is typically a non-structural system that is attached to the building’s frame and designed to resist wind and other environmental loads.

The glass panels are usually supported by a metal or concrete frame, and the joints between the panels are sealed with weather-resistant materials such as silicone or polyurethane. The glass can be treated with various coatings and tints to improve energy efficiency and reduce glare, and it can also be decorated with patterns or designs to enhance the building’s aesthetic.

The thickness of a glass facade can vary depending on several factors, including the type of glass being used, the height and size of the building, and local building codes and regulations. In some cases, the thickness of the glass can range from 8mm to 20mm or more, with the thicker glass typically used for buildings that are taller or located in areas with higher wind loads.

Glass facades are commonly used in modern architecture because they provide a number of benefits. They allow natural light to enter the building, which can reduce the need for artificial lighting and improve the indoor environment for occupants. They also provide views of the surrounding environment, which can enhance the building’s connection to its context, whether that be urban, rural or natural. Finally, they can create a striking visual effect that can help the building stand out.

The Best Applications For Effective Facades

Novum Structures has extensive experience engineering, fabricating, and installing glass structures of all types. When it comes to facades, thoughtful planning is required to ensure form and function are aligned. Some examples of highly effective glass facades include the following:

400 Record Glass Facade from the Lobby

400 Record

Factors to Consider When Designing Your Facade

Tempered/Toughened Glass. This approach is extremely sturdy and can withstand extreme thermal shock, weather conditions and seismic force. If you are building a facade in a high risk area, consider this method. Tempered glass has a typical breaking strength of 120 N/mm2. If there is an event that causes tempered glass to break, it shatters into several non-cutting and fine pieces, lowering the risk of injury.

Curved Glazing. Curved glazing creates a beautiful display that is entirely unique compared to the typical straight glass most people expect to see on buildings. Curved glass is most often produced one of three ways: using gravity, heat, or cold. These practices still ensure that curved glass can meet the same energy efficiency standards as its standard glass counterpart.

Laminated Glass. Laminated glass comprises two or more sheets of glass bonded together by interlayers of polyvinyl butyral (PVB). Multiple layers of glass make even stronger glass panels. The standard PVB thickness is 0.38, 0.76, and 1.52 mm. Their typical maximum dimension is 3.6 X 2.4 m.

Low Iron Glass. When facades are made using multiple layers of glass, a green tint can occur. Producing the glass with less iron than normal can help avoid this green presentation. Low iron glass typically contains less than 0.1% iron oxide, which makes it much clearer and more transparent than regular glass, with better color accuracy and no greenish tint.

Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse Glass Facade External View

Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse

Bird Friendly Glass. Every year, thousands of birds accidentally fly into glass windows and facades. This often leads to injuries or death. To make a glass facade bird-friendly, there are several factors that need to be considered, including:

  • Marking the Glass: One of the most effective ways to make a glass facade bird-friendly is by marking the glass with patterns or decals that are visible to birds. These markings help birds to recognize the glass as a solid object and avoid collisions. The markings can be in the form of dots, stripes, or other patterns.
  • Install UV Reflective Glass: Birds are able to see ultraviolet light, which helps them navigate and identify objects in their environment. By using glass that reflects ultraviolet light, birds can more easily recognize the glass as a barrier and avoid collisions.
  • Use Tinted or Fritted Glass: Tinted or fritted glass can help to reduce the reflectivity of the glass and make it less confusing for birds. These types of glass are also effective at reducing heat gain and glare, making them a popular choice for energy-efficient buildings.

The Bottom Line

Glass Facades can positively transform the appearance of a building. There are so many different options for architects to create visually stunning and structurally sound facades.  Novum Structures engineers are here to collaborate with your team to create a complete system solution to accomplish your design intent, contact us today!