Published March 15, 2022
SERIES: Solution Makers
A Jewel Box
Bendheim’s glass facade creates a “jewel box” parking structure in Chicago
By Jen Levisen
A new mixed-use development in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Positioned at the virtual center of the city’s north-south transportation corridor, the development comprises a 45-story luxury residential tower and a five-level, 376-space parking structure atop commercial storefronts. The high public profile of the building required a thoughtful, aesthetic design for its street-facing parking facility.
FitzGerald Associates’ vision for the multi-level car park included an elegant, expressive exterior that would provide natural ventilation and illumination. An open-ventilated glass facade enclosing the garage’s north, west, and south elevations was a natural fit, provided it offered the required amount of openness and was cost-effective.
The specified Bendheim ventilated glass facade was a clear win for the project and design-assist. Created and engineered by Bendheim Wall Systems in collaboration with FitzGerald Associates Architects and Reflection Window + Wall, the custom glass facade accomplished all aesthetic, functional, and budgetary goals, thanks to its unprecedented design flexibility and ease of use. It created an elegant, jewel-like facade, maximized the parking area, and saved the client over $1 million.
Project at a Glance
727 West Madison (1 South Halsted) Parking Structure, Chicago, IL
Design by FitzGerald Associates Architects, Chicago
Patent-Pending Ventilated Glass Facade by Bendheim Wall Systems Inc., New Jersey Installation by Reflection Window + Wall, Chicago
Approx. Facade Area: 24,000 sq. ft.
Max. Glass Panel Size: 3 ft. x 10 ft.
Glass Types: White laminated glass in two levels of opacity, white fritted glass with custom linear patterns
Photography Credit: Tashio Martinez
Let's Skip to the Good Part
The two different wall layouts are accompanied by distinct decorative glass designs to further distinguish each facet of the parking structure. The “in-and-out” north and south walls comprise 546 translucent white laminated glass panels. The “flat” west facade consists of 406 pattern-fritted glass panels – a total of approx. 1,000 panels.
The north/south glass features two levels of opacity. The lites that punch forward are a more transparent shade, while the background ones are a denser white, visually enhancing the sense of depth. The layered shading and staggered panel placement create a visual “fade” effect that adds to the beauty and dynamic quality of the design.
White fritted laminated glass with a custom linear pattern decorates the west facade, creating an enlivening play of shadow and light. It appears to float over the concrete structure, held in the visually minimal clips. The expression is light and crystalline – a nearly seamless jewel facade, uninterrupted by heavy structural supports.
Since this side of the parking structure is the most public one, hiding outside-in views was a key design objective. Because glass patterns without easily perceivable repetition tend to appear more obscuring, the architects collaborated closely with Bendheim to produce a budget-friendly non-repetitive pattern. Due to the consistent size and shape of the glass panels, it was determined that a silk-screened / fritted pattern was the most cost-effective solution. Three unique screens were produced to create the three primary design motifs. Rotating and mixing these achieved the desired visual variability without increasing the cost. The resulting white pattern-fritted glass effectively screens the parking decks, creating a chic monolithic appearance when viewed from the street, while simultaneously maintaining occupants’ visibility to the outside.
The translucent decorative glass on all three sides of the parking structure filters a generous amount of daylight, improves the solar shading, and obscures outside-in views of the cars. As light shifts throughout the day, the entire facade changes in unison. The non-see-through glass is also inherently bird-friendly, an added benefit.
Review Bendheim’s case study, Bringing Natural Ventilation & Daylight to Urban Multi-Story Parking, in full on their website.
Bendheim, established in 1927 in Greenwich Village, New York City, is a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated business. More than 90 percent of the company’s business is done in custom-designed glass, which it fabricates in the United States from components sourced from North America and Europe. The company’s plant in Wayne, New Jersey, is fully vertically integrated—including cutting, polishing, tempering, laminating, and back-painting—allowing Bendheim to provide a wide variety of decorative glass to its customers on time and on budget.