Date: 27 September 2021
Executed through the Vitro Concierge Program™, an exclusive service designed to ensure supplychain success for large, complex or high-profile commercial construction projects, Five City Center in downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania, combines a Class-A office building space and residences in a modern, daylit building.
Featuring an attractive blue and gray mosaicstyle façade, the unique glass design for the 13-story, mixed-use mid-rise emerged from contrasting directives provided by the building owner and the general contractor. The developers of City Center Allentown wanted a beautiful glass building while North Star Construction Management sought a more unitized design to maximize “buildability,” installation and cost efficiencies. JDavis Architects came up with a tinted mosaic design to successfully meet both objectives.
“We worked to create something that could be iconic for downtown Allentown, while still being clean and simple,” said Kaman Skinner, RA, LEED® AP, associate, project manager, JDavis Architects, Philadelphia. “We created movement and activity by employing the use of four different colors along the portion of the building that faced the main commercial corridor and demanded a cleaner look, while using mullion caps on the southern portion of the building that face the finer urban grain of the residential community to give more texture and scale consistent with the immediate surround.”
To deliver the desired palette of blue and gray hues, JDavis consulted with Vitro Architectural Glass to review the available tints and shades, and associated costs, “This helped us determine the percentage used for each color and how to pattern those colors to create the mosaic look we wanted to achieve,” Skinner explained.
The firm and its glass fabricator, J.E. Berkowitz, Pedricktown, New Jersey, also worked closely with Julia Giba, manager of the Vitro Concierge Program™, to ensure the full variety of tints was ready for on-time delivery to the site. “All the tints we needed for this project were either reserved from existing inventory or calculated into previously scheduled glass runs to meet construction deadlines,” she explained.
The end result is a striking 300,000-squarefoot building incorporating rich blue Solarban® 60 Pacifica®, aqua-blue Solarban® 60 Azuria®, light sky-blue Solarban® 60 Solarblue®, and warm-gray Solarban® 60 Opitgray® glasses, which are further complemented by Solarban® 60 glass on a clear glass substrate.
Leveraging the tint to enhance interior comfort and glare control, JDavis opted for darker shades on the southern and western façades to mitigate solar heat gain and glare from the sun during the latter part of the day.
The building offers active street views from the first three stories and panoramic, 360-degree views from floors four through 13. Located in a tax-incentive district, Five City Center makes a valuable contribution to the city’s efforts to re-invigorate this designated Neighborhood Improvement Zone.
Although the building owner originally brought JDavis on board to design the residential portion of the mid-rise and the 800+-car parking structure behind the building, the client gained confidence in the firm’s ability to develop the entire block after an initial round of discussions, which included master plan-related ideas the firm had developed for the entire block.
“This was a win-win for us in that we were able to work on both the Five City Center commercial tower and the residential community of Center Square Lofts to design a single urban block where interior and exterior worked hand in hand to create a vibrant, walkable and energetic community,” related Skinner.
Though JDavis specializes in commercial, low-density and high-density residential architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, the firm doesn’t often have the opportunity to showcase its multi-disciplinary expertise on a single project. He adds, “this has been a portfolio piece for us that we have been proud to use for bids on new projects as well as social media outlets.”
Featuring an advanced double-silver coating, Solarban® 60 glass offers a clear, colorneutral appearance that harmonizes with the full range of performance-tinted glasses used on Five City Center while enhancing their solar control performance. Coated over Pacifica®, Azuria®, Solarblue® and Optigray® glasses, Solarban® 60 glass produced solar heat gain coefficients (SHGCs) ranging from 0.23 to 0.30 and visible light transmittance of 34% to 50%, offering architects and specifiers an expansive palette of color and performance options.
To learn more about Solarban® 60, Pacifica®, Azuria®, Solarblue® and Optigray® glasses, or to find a member of the Vitro Certified™ Network, visit www.vitroglazings.com or call 1-855-VTRO-GLS (887-6457).
City Center Allentown
JDavis Architects, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Vitro Glass Products:
Solarban® 60 Azuria®; Solarban® 60 Optigray®,
Solarban® 60 Pacifica®, Solarban® 60 Solarblue®
and Solarban® 60 Glasses
Vitro Certified™ Fabricators:
J.E. Berkowitz, Inc., Pedricktown, New Jersey
North Star Construction M
Tom Kessler Photography