World Tour

A Look at Great Glass Projects from Around the Globe

By Jordan Scott

The COVID-19 pandemic has put travel on hold for people globally, but the world of architecture is still moving. While you may not be able to see these buildings in person in the near future, Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal is bringing you a look at some of the latest international glass and glazing projects.

Lakhta Complex | St. Petersburg, Russia

At 1,516 feet, Europe’s tallest building dominates the north of St. Petersburg, Russia, sited directly on Neva Bay. While Lakhta Center draws much of the eye’s attention upward, directly at its foot are two glass multifunctional buildings and a long, curving lobby. As the new home for diverse public facilities, the planners created two extensive buildings to the west of St. Petersburg’s new landmark. Th e buildings, wrapped completely in glass, swing away from the tower in a series of waves, rising steeply in the direction of the water.

sedak of Gersthofen, Germany, provided the structural framework for the large-area glass façades with a total of 404 glass fi ns. The entry archway includes 78 glass fins. The seven-layer laminates made from 12-mm thick sheets of glass were provided with high-grade steel shoes and equipped with steel elements by sedak. A flush-fitting fixture was created that enables an unobtrusive and aesthetically attractive attachment of the façade lites, according to the company.

A total of 326 glass fi ns carry the façades of the north and south blocks, narrowing toward the top, where they follow the external profile of the buildings. Here, the more than 56-foot long fins that support the façade at the highest points stand out. They are the longest glass fins currently in use in any building.

“This is a milestone that we are very proud of, but the limits have not yet been reached,” says sedak manager Ulrich Theisen.

In order to support the glass areas of the façade resulting from the geometry, with their various loads, sedak manufactured the glass fins in multiple designs. Th e main load is carried by the numerous triple layer laminates. In three different widths, 237 glass fi ns were used in the construction of the two auxiliary buildings. These are complemented by 58 eight-layer laminates (8 by 12 mm) equipped with high-grade steel bases, 14 seven-layer (5 by 12 mm and 2 by 15 mm) and 17 six-layer laminates (6 by 12 mm). Glass brackets were laminated onto the latter to attach the steel elements, achieving an optically seamless transition to the façade components. Over the complete height of the various fins, sedak drilled the attachment points for the façade glazing. A total of 3,316 holes with diameters of between 32 and 60 mm were drilled with precision.

“In the subsequent lamination everything had to function perfectly. Th at was a great challenge because absolutely no tolerances were possible,” says Theisen.

Lakhta Center

AGC Interpane provided 16,500 double insulating glass units for the Lakhta Center, which achieved a LEED Platinum rating. The units include a laminated, 11/16-inch low iron exterior lite with a Ipasol Bright coating on surface #2 and Stopray Vision 72 coating on surface #4, an argon space, and a monolithic inboard lite in AGC’s Linea Azzurra substrate, a clear glass with a subtle blue tint, according to Yago Martinez, Interpane’s business development manager for North America.

Josef Gartner was the façade contractor for the tower, which includes approximately 400,000 square feet of glass. It was designed by Gorproject.

La Samaritaine | Paris, France

La Samaritaine, formerly the largest department store in Paris, was designed by architect Frantz Jourdain in 1870. Now owned by LVMH, it has been closed since 2005 due to safety concerns. This historic building includes a mix of Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture and is undergoing a glassy renovation that will reopen it to the public. The renovated building will include a department store and a five-star Cheval Blanc hotel.

The project is being led by Japanese architecture firm SANAA, Édouard François and François Brugel. Frener Reifer is the façade contractor on the project.

The main façade is a 22,000-square-foot double-skin system. The exterior skin is made up of laminated annealed curved glass with AGC Interpane’s Ipachrome Design double-sided mirror coating in gradient patterns, according to Martinez. The curved glass was fabricated by Cricursa in Spain. The interior skin includes triple-glazed flat glass with AGC’s Pyropane fire-resistant glass and Interpane’s Iplus 1.1T coating. The flat glass was fabricated by AGC Europe.

The 8,000-square-foot façade on the opposite side of the building includes a double-glazed insulating glass unit (IGU) with Interpane’s Ipasol Ultraselect 62/29 triple silver coating and Ipachrome Design double-sided mirror coating. The building’s new 3,500-square-foot skylight consists of a double-glazed IGU with Interpane’s Ipasol Neutral 70/37 coating.

Birmann 32 | São Paulo, Brazil

Birmann 32 is the newest urban landmark in São Paulo, Brazil. Located in the heart of Avenida Faria Lima, the 412-foot building was designed by Pei Partnership Architects and Eiji Hayakawa Architects. It was conceived by Rafael Birmann and was incorporated by Faria Lima Prime Properties (FLPP).

The angular glass façade includes more than 65,000 square feet of SunGuard HP Neutral Plus 50 coated glass from Guardian Glass, which was used for its high transparency and thermal efficiency. GlassecViracon, based in São Paulo, fabricated the glass and ITEFAL of Guarulhos, Brazil, was the contract glazier. FLPP project manager Renato Silva explains that, from the beginning, creator Rafael Birmann wanted a building that was aesthetically different from the others found in São Paulo.

“This included a more transparent facade, without tint, which required glass without the reflective aspect,” he says. “So, throughout the development of the project, the objective was to seek the specification of a glass that would meet this demand. For that, we evaluated several options, and we arrived at Neutral Plus 50 from Guardian Glass, which fulfilled all these requirements, especially regarding neutrality.”

While transparency and low reflectivity were important, Silva also says the glass needed to offer abundant light transmission and superior energy performance to meet the requirements for LEED Platinum certification.

“Neutral Plus 50 also offered us this performance differential, with energy coefficients that met the project specifications, combined with quality and aesthetics,” he says, adding that the glass was chosen after a site visit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Jordan Scott is the editor of Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal. She can be reached at

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