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Oversized Glass in the Hurricane Market: From 2012 to 2021!

Following the architectural movement in Europe and more recently in the United States, jumbo glass is a trend that is here to stay. However, the hurricane market, or more specifically the South Florida market, has not been able to participate in this movement until recently due to the stringent large-missile codes that were implemented in the mid 1990’s.

Glass fabricators and window manufacturers have continued to innovate over the years, making both residential impact windows and commercial windows larger and higher performing. It wasn’t that long ago when a 5’ x7’ impact-resistant fixed window was considered a large window.

Over the last ten years, we have seen a significant improvement on impact-resistant windows, driven by demand from architects and owners wanting more glass and less metal. Today it’s not unheard of to see commercial glazing systems have single lites of impact glass 8′ or 10’ wide by 12′ to 15’ high or greater. Even more amazing is a frameless impact window called SLIMPACT® that was introduced in 2015 with a product approval for large-missile for a 8’ wide by 12’ high window with no exposed framing. And just recently, SLIMPACT® Jumbo passed all the tests for a 10’ wide by 20’ high frameless impact window.

With all these product advancements in our world of glass and glazing, it’s interesting to flashback to a not so far distant past and recognize some of the earlier trendsetters. Below is an article from US Glass in 2012 about Performance Glass installing large impact-resistant glass in a private residence in Palm Beach, Fla.

HEAVY WEIGHT: Performance Glass Completes Large Glass Installation in Palm Beach, Fla.

US Glass Magazine | June 2012 | Link to Article

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Performance Glass recently completed a hurricane-resistant installation of a 2-inch-thick piece of glass, made up of two laminated lites of impact-resistant glass and an insulating air spacer at a high-end residential project located on the ocean in Palm Beach Fla.

“It’s a single-family oceanfront estate home and this glass gave the owner unobstructed views of the ocean while complying with engineering for Florida’s hurricane impact-resistant codes,” says Louis Ferrusi, vice president of Performance Glass.

The project was just completed in March.

The installation consisted of seven lites of glass ranging from 97 square feet, weighing more than 2,500 pounds, to pieces that were 161 square feet, weighing 4,200 pounds apiece.

Rochester Insulated Glass (RIG) in Manchester, N.Y., fabricated the glass for the job.

“All seven pieces were installed in only two days with four men and an operator says Ferrusi.

With any project this large and unusual comes challenges, of course.

“The first challenge was finding equipment that could lift a two-ton piece of glass and safely manipulate it into a frame that was only slightly larger than the glass itself,” says Ferrusi. “The heaviest piece was in excess of 4,000 pounds and 160 square feet, and every piece of glass had to be installed into a framing system with only ½-inch tolerance to comply with the strict Florida hurricane impact codes. After unsuccessfully searching for an existing vacuum glass manipulator that would work, we had a custom rig made with a lifting capacity of over 5,000 pounds. To our knowledge, there isn’t another piece of equipment that is available to lift the piece of glass this size or weight”

The lifting rig consisted of eight individual vacuum cups; power rotation; and a self-leveling 1,300-pound counterweight system. The crane utilized a 75-ton machine with the ability to carry the glass from one end of the property to the openings some 100 feet away, according to Ferrusi.

The home’s location also was a hurdle. “The home is located directly on the beach prohibiting any equipment to operate from that side of the site,” he says “The only area the glass could be stage was on the west side of the site and the installation points were located on the east side. We used a 75-ton crane, supplied by Hunter Crane, to fly the glass with the manipulator around the property and into the custom made framing system.”

Performance became involved with the project through the glass fabricator RIG.

“The homeowner and his engineer worked directly with the glass manufacturer, Rochester Insulated Glass, who recommended our company to do the installation,” says Ferrusi