Seismic Design of Jumbo Glass Structures

Inter Story Drift Analysis of Modern Facades



Photo of Alfonso E. Lopez, P.E.

Alfonso E. Lopez, P.E.


Sentech Architectural Systems

Photo of David Dunham, P.E.

David Dunham, P.E.

Director of Business Development



The design of structural glass systems continues to evolve with the parallel development of new manufacturing technology. Improvements in the manufacturing processes of jumbo glass, including improved optical quality, improved coatings, and improved manufacturing tolerances, have led to increased use of jumbo glass in structural glass applications.

The design of today’s structural glass facades emphasizes simplicity, minimizes hardware, and makes frequent use of jumbo panels and jumbo fins. This approach results in increasingly transparent structures and has transformed the industry: facade designers are taking full advantage of a design palette that includes and emphasizes jumbo glass systems.

The use of jumbo glass in structural glass systems has many aesthetic and structural advantages, however, the inherent in-plane rigidity of the systems presents challenges to designers in accommodating building movements.

This paper discusses the challenges faced by structural engineers designing structural glass facades with jumbo glass panels, presents novel seismic isolation design methods, and discusses practical design examples of seismic isolation systems used for jumbo glass applications.


The design of modern structural glass facades is evolving rapidly and is being driven by changes in glass manufacturing technology. The development of glass manufacturing equipment and technology that allows

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Architectural Design Trends

Increased Use of Jumbo Glass Panels

There are many glass manufacturers around the world that can manufacture glass more than 10’ wide and 27’ tall, and there are a few manufacturers

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Seismic Design Principles of Facades Using Jumbo Glass Panels

The design of any façade begins with the selection of the dead load support system. Façade systems can be dead loaded to the base of the façade or suspended from

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Seismic Isolation of Facades with Single Height Glass Fins and Single Height Glass Panels

Flat Facades

The seismic isolation strategy for flat facades with single height glass fins and single height glass panels can be summarized as follows: a) the facade is allowed to tilt

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Seismic Isolation of Facades with Single Height Glass Panels and No Fins

As architects continue to explore new ways of increasing transparency and as manufacturing technology continues to evolve, a new trend has emerged, and many façades are being designed without any

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Seismic Isolation of Facades with Single Height Glass Fins and Subdivided Jumbo Glass Panels

The seismic design of these types of facades is very similar to the seismic isolation for full height panels and fins. The key difference is that in developing diaphragm action

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Seismic Isolation of Suspended Facades

It is not unusual for facades of the type discussed in this paper to be suspended rather than floor loaded. The key challenge in suspending a façade is to ensure

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Seismic Isolation of Facades with Cantilevered Fins

It is not unusual for facades to use cantilever fins to maximize the floor space. Because the façade wind loads are resisted by the cantilever fins, there are typically large

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Conclusion and Future Work

As technology continues to evolve, and as the size capabilities of glass manufacturers and optical quality of manufactured glass continues to improve, architects and designer will continue the quest for

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Michael Ludvik Engineering provided valuable insights and ideas in the development of solutions for curved facade applications.

Rights and Permissions

Hiroki TAMAI*, PhD, Chris STUTZKI, PhD, Joshua BUCKHOLT, Mathew WEGLARZ. " Determination of warping deformation limits for insulating glass units in cable net facades” Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Computation of Shell and Spatial Structures IASS-IACM 2008.