Elliptical glass façade used as structural support for the new welcome center building is the first of its kind in North America.
The Denver Art Museum (DAM) marks another major milestone in its North Building renovation project with the installation of the new welcome center’s curved structural glass.
A crane using a special suction cup lifter, which can only operate when it is 32 degrees or warmer outside, is used to lift each of the large glass panels. The high-performance structural glass, made up of three layers of 3/8-inch thick glass, was specifically fabricated for the museum’s new welcome center. A total of 52 glass panels completes the full elliptical façade of the new public space, including 36 curved panels standing 25 feet high and eight feet wide, making it the first structural glass wall façade of this size and scale in North America to hold itself up without the need for intermediate framing.
“Each curved glass unit is supported at the top and bottom by a curved stainless-steel angle. These angles are supported by custom stainless-steel fittings that attach to triple-laminated, low-iron glass fins using stainless-steel bolts through holes drilled in the glass fins,” said Fentress Architects Principal and Director of Technical Design Ned Kirschbaum. “The glass fins are in turn point‑supported top and bottom with stainless steel bolts through drilled holes in the glass fins and connected back to the building’s primary steel structure through custom stainless-steel fittings.”
The welcome center is part of the Denver Art Museum’s $150 million North Building renovation project, which kicked off in early 2018 after receiving $35.5 million from the voter-supported Elevate Denver Bond Program to make critical infrastructure improvements. The new welcome center will be named the Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center when finalized. The completion of the North Building project will unify the museum’s campus and align with the Hamilton Building’s 21st-century systems and art experiences, including expanded resources for youth and school groups, additional gallery space and improved visitor circulation.
The North Building project’s design has been realized by Fentress Architects of Denver and Boston-based Machado Silvetti, with Saunders Construction as the construction partner. Sentech is the manufacturer for the welcome center’s structural glass and Harmon is the subcontractor installing the elliptical glass façade.
Sentech Architectural Systems
Oldcastle Building Envelope
Machado Silvetti (Design Architect)
Fentress Architects (Architect-of-Record)
Saunders Construction (General Contractor)
Building Envelope Consultant
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Date of Completion
Custom Sentech System
OBE HTC Reliance System
Vitro Solarban 60/72
Guardian SN 70/35