Making a Glass Connection

When Belzberg Architects set out on the design of the new “media wall,” part of the McKinnon Family Center for Global Affairs, Occidental College, in Los Angeles, they wanted to create “a bold interior volume dedicated to international connectivity.” They did this with the creation of a two-story, glass “post-it” wall. According to the architects, the “interactive media wall streams real time information, while facilitating conversations with students around the globe, providing a virtual nexus for dialogue and connectivity.” The glass media wall, made up of 48 individual unique lites, showcases student- and faculty-generated ideas and images on ten video screens. mckinnonwebstory

Los Angeles-based Pulp Studios and California Glass Bending supplied the unique glazing. Custom Glass Specialists was the contract glazier. SentryGlasExpressions (SGX) was used to create the white, web-like pattern enhanced by a texture on the surface that used Pulp Studio’s MicroFrost technique.

“The wall is represented by many unique compound bends as the wall radiuses in the width and undulates in the height,” says Bernard Lax, president of Pulp Studio and California Glass Bending. “On top of the graphic interlayer, the face of the glass has a MicroFrost finish except where the monitors are exposed. Around the edge of the monitors is a gradient fade to avoid a sharp line and allow the monitors to appear as if they are floating in the wall.”

The project was not without challenges. “The entire wall was built off of shop drawings, including the steel, in a very short construction schedule,” says Lax. “This means that the glazier did not have the opportunity to field-measure the pieces. Trying to match up the pieces top to bottom, and side to side, made the entire job challenging from beginning to end and definitely caused a lot of friction on the project that could have been avoided with a more extended schedule.”

The project’s design was led by Hagy Belzberg, founding principal of Belzberg Architects based in Santa Monica, Calif. He says glass provides a number of important benefits to the project. In particular, flexibility.

“With glass we can create a panel system that is translucent, transparent, provides patterns, undulation and the ability to integrate on a second structural system, in this case the hardware that provides interactive scenarios for the students,” says Belzberg, adding that durability is another important characteristic, as it’s easy to clean.

“Also, with the way it diffuses light, we can express different conditions when it reacts to the software, through the film [PVB] in the glass,” he adds.