Engineers, Architects Eye Future Of Glass Design

For many buildings, glass makes up the most striking and visible part of a structure’s exterior. And as owners and tenants in office buildings and other property types seek attractive views, energy efficiency and security, glass engineering and design is taking center stage.

Although the role of glass is well established in building design, innovations are also changing the role of glass and providing developers with more options. “From an engineering point of view, we have more and more architects coming to us using unique solutions with glass,” said Richard Tomasetti, chairman of Thornton Tomasetti Inc., a renowned New York City-based engineering firm. Tomasetti spoke to CPN Thursday, a day before he was scheduled to moderate a panel this morning during a symposium on engineering glass at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in Manhattan.

One of the biggest changes that may surprise even seasoned developers is that glass is increasingly pulling its weight when it comes to holding itself up. As Tomasetti explained, “The glass is doing more work as a structural element, and taking more of the stresses and strains than it did.” Engineering strategies range from a tennis racket-like system of cables that holds the panels in a grid to glass mullions or gaskets that grab panels at the corners.

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