Clear Sailing

by Franz K. Safford, (M.ASCE), Principal; Advanced Structures Inc., Tenafly, NJ,
Tejav J. DeGanyar, (M.ASCE), Principal; Advanced Structures, Inc., Santa Monica, CA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 8, Pg. 43-46

Document Type: Feature article


Three recent projects--the Conoid Atrium Wall at the Federal Courthouse in Boston, an addition to the U.S. Bureau of Census building in Baltimore, and a new University of Connecticut academic center--demonstrate how glass-wall technology is based heavily on the graceful design of racing yachts. Tension glass walls have long enabled designers to add an elegant touch to nearly any type of structure. Yet, owing to the difficulty of creating an integral structure using large amounts of glass, it was a notable feat whenever engineers could produce glass-wall systems that conformed to the architects' intentions. Recently, engineers have discovered ways to achieve unprecedented levels of structural transparency without sacrificing structural stability. The source of their findings: the same technology that allows 100-ft-long offshore racing yachts to cruise at astonishing rates of speed. It is a discovery that is allowing architects and engineers to work together in using tension glass-wall systems in innovative and expressive ways.

Subject Headings: Walls | Glass | Structural stability | Colleges and universities | Building design | Project management | Integrals

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