Project Spotlight Fall 2021

Ready to Rock: Guitar-Shaped, Glass-Clad Hotel & Casino Take the Stage

By Ellen Rogers

In 1993 John Hiatt lamented those famous words about rock stars smashing a perfectly good guitar. It broke his heart, he sang. Those rockers may have carelessly smashed their guitars for show and excitement, but there’s at least one they won’t be able to touch.

The glass-clad guitar-shaped Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., is open and rocking. The tower stands 35 stories above ground and is curved to create the realistic look of an upright guitar, complete with guitar strings. Designed by Klai Juba Wald (KJW) Architecture + Interiors, the hotel and casino’s grand opening took place in late 2019. Th e tower includes 638 rooms and suites, in addition to a 41,000-square-foot spa and several restaurants. Th e neck of the guitar extends 75 feet above the roof with light cannons blazing through.

According to KJW associate principal Steve Peck, plans for the guitar-shaped hotel initially began in 2006, but were put on hold once the economy collapsed. He says it was around 2012 when the owner re-engaged in discussions to build the hotel.

All About the Glass

Th e blue glass façade incorporates approximately 247,200 square feet of glass and is the dominate feature of the project’s design. Peck explains the color of glass he originally wanted was no longer available, so he had several samples delivered and placed them side-by-side to determine the selection.

“It was a little sight unseen, but we were confident in the selection of the glass color and it turned out better than we thought,” he said.

The glass was supplied by Shanghai YaoHua Tempered Glass Co. Ltd., and the insulating glass units were constructed to meet high and low missile impact requirements.

“There are only two counties with high- and low-[missile requirements] and those are Broward and Miami-Dade; the glass has all of those notice of acceptances (NOA),”says Peck.

LED lighting is also integrated into the glass and glazing system, making the whole building a fully animated video screen.

Curtainwall Details

Arup consulted on the project, providing the details for the profiles and mullions to create the curve, says Peck.

A post-tension slab system was used for levels four through 28 of the building, which allowed for thin floor plates. This made the curtainwall installation easier, according to information provided by the structural engineering firm DeSimone Consulting Engineers.

NR Windows in West Palm Beach, Fla., helped design, fabricate and install the curtainwall for the building. It features a custom hurricane impact curtainwall system with integrated LED lighting tested to meet Miami-Dade County protocols. The hotel’s entire façade is made up of insulating glass units constructed with SentryGlas ionoplast interlayer from Kuraray.

The custom-designed guitar string system also includes integrated LED lighting, creating the neck of the guitar. In addition, NR designed a custom multi-track lift and slide glass door tested to Miami-Dade County protocol to meet the hurricane impact requirements.

A Look Inside

While the exterior is certainly a showstopper, the interior also features some unique glazing applications. Inside the lobby is a 24-foot tall segmented glass waterfall which Al Farooq Corp. designed and engineered in concert with Faour Glass Technologies. The glass has a radius of 40 feet and is supported by a mullion-less system at the head and sill.

Faour’s Slimpact XL and pivot door systems were used for the hotel entrance and adjacent storefront. Slimpact was used for approximately 2,200 total square feet of the project. Kuraray’s interlayers were used in these sections as well.

While it’s the guitar that’s been getting the most attention, Peck points out the tower is just one part of the Hard Rock’s expansion.

“Everyone is enamored with the tower, but that’s just one piece and a part of it all. By the time we finish and add in everything else … we’ve got 250,000 square feet of amenities.”

A Glass Guitar You Can Play

By Rebecca J. Barnabi

Buildings that look like guitars aren’t the only things that use glass as a primary material. Real guitars do, too. For Alex Morningstar, the journey toward making glass guitars began with a degree in biology. A biologist, Morningstar was laid off in 2017, but found another position in early 2020. COVID soon followed resulting in another lay-off. That’s when he got the job working at Windowman in Gainesville, Fla.

“I didn’t find a job in my field [of biology] … so I looked for anything,” says the 30-year old from Gainesville, Fla.

What he found on Craigslist was a job in a glass shop. Morningstar had previously worked with wood, which “gave me a bit of experience.”

The manager of the shop had been in the glass business for many years, and he learned a lot from him.

“I just thought a glass guitar was a kind of cool thing to build,” he says. He soon realized that if he wanted a glass guitar, maybe someone else would also.

He began making glass guitars in 2020 and sells them mostly on YouTube.

Every guitar is “built to order” for each customer. Two models are available for $3,450, a third is $3,650. The price reflects the cost of parts, as well as the labor that goes into spending 80 to 100 hours to make the musical instrument.

“It’s hard to sit on a guitar that’s worth thousands of dollars, and it doesn’t sell,” Morningstar says of building guitars as customers order them.

Recently, Morningstar says he wanted to provide a more affordable option for customers, as well as make a guitar that does not take as long to make. He created a guitar with a glass body, and a wooden neck that he purchases from another company.

The inside of each guitar is hollow in order to keep its weight as light as possible. Morningstar says his guitars weigh from 12.9 pounds to as much as 15 pounds, depending on the size of the body. His customers understand, though, that a guitar made of glass will be heavier than one made of wood.

According to Morningstar, other than appearance, a glass guitar does not have an advantage over a wooden guitar, though the sound is a bit different.

“It’s an electric guitar. They, basically, sound the same. [The glass guitar] is a luxury product,” Morningstar says. “But the sound of a glass guitar is a little bit different.”

He has also started making glass bass guitars, which are available on his website. Every guitar, electric or bass, has a stainless steel plate on the headstock with his name and logo.

“It’s more sustained than a wooden guitar,” says Morningstar, who has played guitar for more than 15 years. A glass guitar’s sound has a “very subtle” difference to the sound of a wooden guitar.

Now that he’s been making these glass guitars, Morningstar says he’s grateful for the opportunity to work for himself, and has no plans to return to biology.

“I can’t plan what happens, but I’m just putting myself out there and slowly growing [the business] into whatever it will become,” he says.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.