Made You Look

Highlighting Architectural Façade Trends

The right aesthetic will turn heads and we’re not just talking fashion. Architects around the world are making statements with unique and unparalleled use of glass. Though the work started long before 2022 was officially named the International Year of Glass, the Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal is taking a look at just a few projects that feature head-turning glass façades.

Maraya Concert Hall

Officially the world’s largest mirror-clad building, as listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, the Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia is an eye-catcher for a number of reasons. Commissioned by The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and designed by Gioforma Architects Designers and Artists, Milano, the concert hall was built in the shadow of Al-Hijr Archeological Site, the country’s first UNESCO Heritage site. Guardian Glass supplied the mirrored facade consisting of 9,740 square meters (105,000 square feet) of mirrors in its external cladding display that creates the mirage effect the architects desired.

The building name—Maraya—comes from the Arabic word for reflection or mirror.

Putting mirrors on the exterior of a building located in the desert was a challenge. The company adapted its interior UltraMirror for the outside through the use of a copper mirror, tempering it, and adding a special protective coating. This required somewhat of a logistical dance, as the raw annealed glass had to be cut to size and tempered before being coated at a different facility. Mirror glass is normally produced in standard raw sheets using annealed glass, then sent to a fabricator for cutting. However, because of the country’s extreme temperatures, the glass had to be tempered, and so couldn’t be cut after being coated without breaking. To solve this issue, the company sent the raw annealed glass to IKK Group who then sent the raw glass, cut to size and heat-treated, back to Guardian where the protective coating was applied.

Apple Al Maryah Island

Apple stores generally turn heads, but Apple Al Maryah Island, located in Abu Dhabi’s financial district, is a standout on the island’s waterfront. It is located beneath the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange building and adjacent to the Galleria Al Maryah Island mall.

The result of a collaboration between Apple’s design teams and Foster + Partners, Apple Al Maryah Island is a rectilinear glazed structure on top of a new, stepped pyramid cascading water feature, paved with Absolute Black granite stone.

A mirrored, stainless-steel portal water jet that cascades over the exterior glass walls connects the retail store to the Galleria Al Maryah Island mall. The water droplets that run over the milled glass surface create a glittering, shimmery effect. A 72-foot-long (22-meter) jointless stretched mirror foil ceiling adds a single, uninterrupted plane kaleidoscopic effect of water falling down the walls, and reflections traveling infinitely up toward the sky.

800 West Fulton Market

800 West Fulton is a Chicago mixed-use office building. It features 19-stories of stepped terraces rising from a 3-story podium that matches the existing scale of Fulton Market Street. The building’s design creates landscaped outdoor spaces for native plants and trees out of glass, brick and dark metal paneling that ties it to the aesthetics of the existing industrial neighborhood. Crown Corr of Gary, Ind., fabricated and installed the façade, while Owatonna, Minn.-based Viracon was the glass supplier.

Engineered for Chicago’s climate, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) designed 800 West Fulton Market with X-braced frames. The external steel brace frames on the east and west elevations were designed for harsh winters with central nodes of each brace having the flexibility to move closer to or away from the facades as they cool and contract or heat up and expand according to the seasons. The braces also have a roughly 9-inch range for thermal movements to accommodate windloads.

An offset cantilevered core made of glass and open floor plates make flexible, light-filled work spaces inside the building. These interior glass walls were supplied by PK-30.

800 West Fulton Market is certified LEED Platinum, WiredScore Platinum, SmartScore Platinum and targets WELL Building Standard certification. It also has smart building systems that help advance the project’s goals for sustainability and well-being.

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