July 30, 2011

Exploring Glass Fabrication in Germany

A suction-cup device used for lifting glass panels at the Thiele Glass fabrication works near Dresden.

KieranTimberlake consulted a number of glazing suppliers from around the world during the design of the all-glass Putman Pavilion. Our selection criteria were stringent; the supplier needed to have the expertise to fabricate and deliver what may be the tallest insulated glazing units in North America. We selected the German company Roschmann Group for the project, which included both design scope assistance and procurement services.

Roschmann invited Project Architect Marilia Rodrigues and Principal David Riz to inspect the assembly of the 5'6” x 23' glass panels in August 2011. A whirlwind 54-hour trip to Germany provided an in-depth understanding of the fabrication processes and installation procedures for this ambitious project. 
While Roschmann has their own large glass assembly facility in Munich, they did not have the capability to fabricate panels at the required size, so they hired Thiele Glass as subcontractors. Marilia and David traveled to Thiele's plant outside Dresden, a spotless fabrication works with glazing products for projects around the world mounted on movable racks.  

Of particular interest were two very large autoclaves for oversized glazing panels, as well as a series of clean rooms for applying lamination films between layers of glass, and a specially equipped testing chamber where glass panels could be inspected through the use of special lighting for imperfections nearly imperceptible to the human eye.

A highly controlled “clean room” for working with glass within a sterile environment.

Detail of roller system in the clean room

The glass panels for the Putman Pavilion awaited final inspection inside an adjacent warehouse space before they could be crated for shipment to Doylestown. The KieranTimberlake team reviewed with one of Thiele's technical staff the best way to apply joint sealant on a pair of actual 23'-high panels. After a number of tests, a workable solution emerged, and this information was passed on by Roschmann to National, the on-site installer.

One of the Putman Pavilion panels in the warehouse.

Inspecting glass panels installed at a building in the Thiele Glass complex near Dresden.

At Roschmann offices in Munich, Marilia and David had the opportunity to study in detail the fabrication and operation of the two pivoting glass doors that provide the connection between the interior of the pavilion and the two flanking gardens.

A unique pivoting glass door installed at the pavilion.