Architect: HKS, Inc.
Window Manufacturer: Accurate Glass Works, Inc.
Glazing Contractor: Viracon
A daring curved design by architect Morris Lapidus helped make Miami’s Fontainebleau resort an architectural icon when it opened in 1954. Indeed, it w as a leading social and cultural hotspot for decades before falling into disrepair. In early 2005, new ownership embarked on a project to revitalize the property and restore it to its former glory. Plans called for the addition of a world-class spa – a freestanding building on the property that would serve as a soothing oasis for guests.
A renowned lighting artist originally created the concept for the spa: a pristine vibrant, crystalline structure that would glimmer and sparkle in the night lights by the pool area. It was the job of architects at Dallas-based HKS, Inc. to turn this concept into a design.
Their design was a contemporary jewel box, a striking glass structure with canted walls. The two-story, 40,000 square-foot building would house the Lapis Spa, along with a sleek rooftop restaurant.
Glass selection was critical. From an aesthetic perspective, architects were searching for a blue glass that would complement the colors of the surroundings and offer reflections of the historic Lapidus architecture. From a performance standpoint, the glass needed to meet Miami’s tough large missile impact requirements and hurricane codes while also providing energy efficiency.
The first challenge was engineering the 10-degree lean-out insulating glass curtainwall to meet Miami’s stringent building code requirements. The team at Accurate Glass Works Inc. developed a solution by modifying a YKK curtainwall system to lean out with horizontal members parallel to the ground.
With the unusual cant and greater spans, glass performance was critical. Viracon worked closely with Accurate Glass Works to find the glass and interlayer combination that would meet stringent Miami-Dade building codes for hurricane resistance. The solution was a 1-5/16” insulating laminated glass with a .075 Vanceva® Storm interlayer.
Due to the complexity of the design, the system h ad to be tested with a full-scale mock-up. However, with a very tight time frame, Accurate Glass Works and Viracon knew the design needed to pass on the first attempt.
“We were brought into this project later in the process than usual, so we knew we had to get everything right and pass all testing the first time around. There was no room for failure,” says Rob Parker, president of Accurate Glass Works. “We worked closely with Viracon to select a glass and interlayer that would provide the strength and durability necessary to meet all requirements. With their help, we met all requirements on our first test.”
Meanwhile, Viracon also worked closely with the architects to select a glass substrate and coatings that would meet aesthetic and performance demands. To create a structure that would fit with its surroundings and provide a soothing environment befitting a world-class spa, architects selected Versalux® Blue 2000 glass substrate with Viracon’s VRE-46 coating.
Viracon’s VRE coatings provide a neutral exterior color and allow two-way vision under varying light conditions. It allows increased light transmittance while also reducing solar heat gain. “We chose a VRE coating for a number of reasons. Energy efficiency was important. Because the spa would have varying temperatures inside for its various treatments, we wanted a glass and coating that wouldn’t allow heat gain or heat loss,” says Rick Lee, AIA, LEED® AP, principal at HKS. “We also wanted the exterior of the building to have a consistent look, top to bottom, and we wanted a surface that would reflect its surroundings.”
The building’s design incorporates three different “bands” of glass – vision glass, spandrel glass and translucent glass – glass that would let light in while protecting the privacy of spa guests enjoying their treatments.
The glass, adds Lee, turned out exactly as envisioned. “We got color, appearance, energy efficiency and impact resistance,” he says. “The result is a unique piece of contemporary architecture that is respectful of its historic surroundings.”