Seeing Them from a Distance: The Glass Fins at the New Seattle Amazon Office
“Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It's coming up with ideas, testing principles and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly.”— Sir James Dyson British inventor, industrial designer and founder of the Dyson company.
Posted by Dominique Hébert on 04/16/2018
Achieving a truly impressive glass solution like the one installed at the latest structure built on the Amazon campus in Seattle, Washington called for conscientious collaboration by a highly experienced fabricator. Several products were used, working in harmony to produce an aesthetically superior final result. The glazing in question featured 1000 pieces (approximately 10,000 square feet of glass) in 4 different sizes. The application included glass fins mounted on the exterior curtain wall, adding color and design as well as solar control.
The overall look took on a stunning presence. The choice of materials and overall fabrication strategy was anything but straightforward. The glass featured a unique laminated make-up consisting of etched glass and multiple colors of custom made ceramic frit. Vitrum Glass Group was the fabricator of this most impressive project.
“Walters and Wolf (Glazing Contractor and Vitrum’s customer on this project) came to us for assistance on building a laminated make-up that combined two colors, with an orange side of the glass having a matte finish and the opposite side being white. The original design rendering had laminated glass fins mounted on the exterior of the curtain wall surrounding the podium. The fins had three shades of orange that transitioned from darkest to lightest. On the opposite side of the fins were to be three shades of white, this was changed to a single shade of white accomplished by using Trosifol® Diamond White PVB as it produced a richer and more vibrant orange,” said Michael Zizek, Marketing Director, Vitrum Glass Group.
One of the key design challenges included integrating etched glass into the overall look and feel of the finish to be on display over the lifespan of the building. Walker Glass’ Textures Velour finish was chosen after Vitrum made a meticulous assessment of available options.
“The original specification did not call for Walker’s Velour Etch or white PVB. Walker’s Velour etch was selected through our own R&D process and this product was chosen due to its low-iron benefit and its superior acid etch finish. Due to the large number of processes the glass had to go through (drilling, roll coating, tempering, lamination), we found through our own internal testing that Walker’s acid etch finish experienced the least staining, rubbing, marking and provided the easiest cleaning both during the fabrication process and in the field,” emphasized Mr. Zizek.
“Our team was very impressed with the deep knowledge and creativity of Vitrum’s design team regarding their input and integration of Walker Textures® Acid-etched Velour finish into the overall design. We’re in fact witnessing a significant growth trend in the use of our acid etched products as they are being incorporated into more and more interior and exterior building designs. Adding a sophisticated curtain wall fin to a building is a perfect example. Our goal at Walker is to provide our customers innovative, superior quality materials that allow such creative designs to take shape and make a difference,” stated Ross Christie, VP Sales and Marketing at Walker Glass.
The team at Vitrum is also seeing the upward trend of etched glass in various design applications as well.
“We have seen a growing demand for back painted Velour Etch used for glass marker boards. The low-glare finish is preferred by many clients. Architects and customers alike are drawn to the matte finish, and the smooth surface of Walker’s etch product makes cleaning both during the fabrication process and in the field much easier than other etched products on the market. There is also a growing interest in matte, glare-free products as an alternative to a high-gloss appearance typically associated with glass,” declared Michael Zizek.
When a project as remarkable as the new Amazon structure is realized, different approaches can be adopted to achieve the end goal. Vitrum’s innovative approach featuring multiple products within one lite of glass mixed with Walker’s acid-etched glass expertise and Vitro's high-end low iron Starphire® glass was arguably the best option to accomplish such great work.
“Collaboration is the best way to work. It is the only way to work, really.”— Antony Starr, New Zealand actor
Project: Amazon Tower aka Rufus 2.0 Block 19, Seattle, WA
Glass Fabricator: Vitrum Glass Group
Glazier: Walters and Wolf
Low Iron Glass: Vitro (PPG) Starphire®
Mirror and Etched Glass Manufacturer: Walker Glass
Etched Product Used:Textures Velour: The velour finish is characterized by its smooth surface and lower light transmittance providing a higher level of opacity
About Vitrum Glass Group:
Vitrum has been supplying customers in the Pacific Northwest with top-quality glass products for over 20 years from their head-office and manufacturing facility in Langley, British Columbia (located 40 km’s east of Vancouver, BC). From their 130,000 square foot fabrication facility 425+ full time employees work 6 days a week, 24 hours a day to produce a wide range of architectural glass products including: insulated glass units, heat-strengthened glass, tempered glass, heat-soaked glass, spandrel glass, screen-printed glass, shower doors, all-glass entry doors and laminated glass – all available in oversized configurations with a maximum insulated glass size of 98″ x 190″.
About Walker Glass:
Through over seven decades, Walker Glass has grown, evolved and constantly adapted to an ever-changing business environment. Walker Glass is the North American market leader in decorative glazing substrates. While many things have changed over the decades, the most important things have remained constant. Adherence to our mission and remaining true to our core values are the trusted foundations of the Walker Glass of yesterday, today and the decades to come.