Wood-glass hybrid construction for an office facade in Salt Lake City

Sedak, which specializes in glass refinement and oversize formats, succeeded in merging glass and wood into panes with a height of 7m, with real-wood veneer made of eucalyptus being integrated into the facade glass. The organic raw material is suitable for lamination due to its hardness, but generally reacts to the firing process, which was carried out in an autoclave at approx. 100°C. The greatest challenge was therefore to integrate the three-layer veneers with the correct dimensions, to make them look perfectly parallel and thus to allow precise connection to the wooden beams protruding from the facade. Initially, architects SOM Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LPP pursued the idea of using photorealistic printing to create the effect and look – but the result wasn't realistic enough. In close cooperation with Sedak's specialists, the planners therefore decided to laminate real-wood veneers into the glass structure. In addition to the advantage of an original look, the wood is thus permanently protected by the glass. Sedak's overall contribution to the project was 940 m2 of the glass facade in the lobby, the 7-m-high wood laminates, 57 facade panes and 46 approx. 11-m-high glass fins and beams.

In the interview, Maic Pannwitz, Executive Vice President of Sedak in New Jersey, explains the special features of the project:

How did it come about that the lamination of wood between glass layers was further developed for the project in Salt Lake City?
Everybody involved – client, architect, façade contractor, and of course we ourselves – had specified “quality” as the crucial criterion. Although photorealistic printing offers very good options for glass designing, the visual quality was not sufficient. As a consequence, we had enough time to produce samples to find the visually and technically perfect result.
We were also contracted because the number of potential partners was quite limited due to the highly complex production, particularly for the oversize dimension of seven meters, and we are one of the few who can really offer that.

Is laminating wood in a glass unit new technology?
Up until now, this technology was only available in small formats and used in furniture designing e.g. for table tops. Façades with wood veneers had not been produced before – at least, I have not heard of any project.

…a typically American project?
Yes. As long as they believe that a measure will have immediate success, Americans are braver and more open to try new things than Europeans. This project shows that they are absolutely willing to globally search for a partner who is ambitious to develop the necessary know-how.

Which static requirements had to be met?
Well, statically, triple laminates would have been sufficient. However, we decided to use a four-layer build-up with a redundant piece of glass for the roof. That made the statics independent of the wood.

Seven-meter glass units with wood veneers, eleven-meter glass fins – how does that work logistically?
The glass units were shipped in special wooden crates. In Salt Lake City, the temporary storage was located nearby which was perfect because they partly had to block traffic lanes for the transport to the site – but not only for our glass.


Photo: Steel Encounters Inc, Salt Lake City, US

Photo: Steel Encounters Inc, Salt Lake City, US

Photo: Steel Encounters Inc, Salt Lake City, US

Photo: Steel Encounters Inc, Salt Lake City, US

Photo: Steel Encounters Inc, Salt Lake City, US

Maic Pannwitz, Executive Vice President, sedak Office New Jersey. Photo: sedak GmbH & Co. KG

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