Structural Silicone Glazing
50+ Years of Innovation
Presented on October 13, 2022 at Facade Tectonics 2022 World Congress
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The recent 50 year anniversary of the first use of silicone sealant in a 4-sided structural silicone glazing application marks a sustainable and proven façade technology that has withstood the test of time. A review of the history of structural silicone glazing using the original basis of innovation of this building will be used to discuss the history of innovation as well as provide a roadmap of where innovation will likely occur including advanced analysis and engineering, impact of load duration and design improvements.
The first building to use silicone sealant in a four-sided structurally glazed application marked its 50th anniversary in 2021. This innovative design was utilized to renovate the decades old Cass Building located at 455 West Fort Street in Detroit, Michigan. Although concerns over the integrity of the glazing using this breakthrough technology led to the installation of secondary “Spider” support systems, earliest mockup testing for the building confirmed the durability of the silicone as a standalone support for glass. In the last 50 years, structural silicone has been successfully used in unsupported four-sided structural applications. This manuscript provides a closer look into the history of the building, which paved the way for this success, including the original design intent. Additionally, a comparison between original installation and today’s observations will be made. An overall case study investigating the long-lasting durability and performance of silicone in structural glazing applications is presented, and a brief discussion on recent innovations is provided as discourse on the future of structural silicone glazing.
History of the Building
The world’s first four-sided, silicone structurally glazed (SSG) project dates to 1971 with the renovation of the sixty-year-old Cass Building in Detroit, Michigan, which has been referred to as the
A full description of the SH&G building’s framework is provided by Hilliard et al. in Sealant Technology in Glazing Systems (Hilliard, Parise, & Peterson). This manuscript builds upon that description
Early Mockup Testing
Early mock-up testing for the SH&G building provided a look into the long-term performance of this four-sided, structurally glazed system. After testing to destruction according to ASTM E330, “Standard Test
Current Condition of the Building
50 years since the building’s recladding has given insight into the durability of structural silicone adhesives. The former SH&G headquarters is located at 455 West Fort Street in Detroit, Michigan
Future of Structural Silicone Glazing
Trends in the glazing industry have moved towards larger glass sizes and reduction in obstructed views. Increasing climate demands as well as aesthetic desires to achieve greater transparency are key
Silicone sealants continue to be crucial components in structural glazing applications. This 50-year history highlights only one example of the durable and proven performance of silicones. The integrity of the
Rights and Permissions
ASTM C1401-14, Standard Guide for Structural Sealant Glazing, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014, www.astm.org
BelCher (2008), Installation of Joint Sealant Standards and Guides, Belcher Inc.
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