Glass Helps Create a Blue “Jewel” at Miami’s Fontainebleau

In early 2005 new ownership of Miami’s Fontainebleau resort, which first opened in 1954 and was originally designed by architect Morris Lapidus, embarked on a project to revitalize and restore the property. Plans called for the addition of a world-class spa-a freestanding building on the property that would serve as a soothing oasis for guests.Dallas-based architectural firm HKS Inc. was charged with the task of designing the spa. Their design was a contemporary, two-story, 40,000 square-foot “jewel box” building, featuring a striking glass structure with canted walls.

Glass selection was critical. From an aesthetic perspective, architects were searching for a blue glass that would complement the colors of the surroundings and offer reflections of the historic Lapidus architecture. From a performance standpoint, the glass needed to meet Miami’s stringent large missile impact requirements and hurricane codes while also providing energy efficiency.

The first challenge was engineering the 10-degree lean-out insulating glass curtainwall to meet Miami’s building code requirements. The team at Accurate Glass Works Inc. modified a YKK curtainwall system to lean out with horizontal members parallel to the ground.

With the unusual cant and greater spans, glass performance was critical. Viracon worked closely with Accurate Glass Works to find the glass and interlayer combination that would meet Miami-Dade building codes for hurricane resistance. The solution was a 1 – 5/16-inch, insulating laminated glass with a .077 Vanceva Storm interlayer.

Due to the complexity of the design, the system was tested with a full-scale mock-up.

“We were brought into this project later in the process than usual, so we knew we had to get everything right and pass all testing the first time around. There was no room for failure,” says Rob Parker, president of Accurate Glass Works. “We worked closely with Viracon to select a glass and interlayer that would provide the strength and durability necessary to meet all requirements. With their help, we met all requirements on our first test.”

Viracon also worked closely with the architects to select a glass substrate and coatings that would meet aesthetic and performance demands. HKS architects selected Versalux Blue 2000 glass substrate with Viracon’s VRE-46 coating.

The building’s design incorporates three different “bands” of glass – vision glass, spandrel glass and translucent glass – glass that would let light in while protecting the privacy of spa guests enjoying their treatments.

To create the translucent glass, a simulated sandblast ceramic frit (V1086) was added to the #5 surface of the insulating laminated unit. The spandrel units incorporate a full coverage warm gray (V933) ceramic frit on the #6 surface, while the vision units contain no frit.

Be sure and check out a future issue of the Architects’ Guide to Glass and Metal for an in-depth look at the Fontainebleau project.