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Steel Shots: Blooms within Steel
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 2, 2013 at 3:31 PM.

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The Glasshouse — the centerpiece of the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition at the foot of Seattle’s Space Needle — is framed with 90 tons of structural steel and houses a suspended 1,340-piece, 100-ft-long glass sculpture as well as the Garden, which serves as a backdrop for a number of monumental sculptures and other installations. Photo: Novum Structures

 

A garden of glass is blooming at the foot of Seattle’s Space Needle.

 

Chihuly Garden and Glass, an exhibition exploring the career of Northwest artist Dale Chihuly, transformed 1.5 acres of asphalt into an outdoor garden. To mark the occasion, Chihuly himself dedicated the exhibition’s centerpiece Glasshouse by signing and dating one of the building’s structural beams.

 

Designed by Owen Richards Architects and Novum Structures, the Glasshouse, which is 40 ft tall and occupies 4,500 sq. ft, is framed with 90 tons of structural steel and houses a suspended 1,340-ft, 100-ft-long glass sculpture as well as the Garden, which serves as a backdrop for a number of monumental sculptures and other installations. The project consists of twelve W18X106 wide-flange columns or “ribs,” while all of the support framing at the roof and end walls was fabricated from square and rectangular HSS.

 

The glass connections, point-supported spider connections attached with rivet nuts, were prepared in Northwest Steel Fab, Inc.’s (AISC member/AISC certified fabricator) shop; everything had to be “handmade” with incredible accuracy due to the large number of glass connectors. In addition, the primary steel members could not be processed through any of the shop’s automated equipment as they needed to be rolled. The steel components were all laid out by hand, and holes were manually drilled at the connection plates of the ribs.

 

Construction took only nine months and the project opened in May.

 

The Glasshouse is part of the “What’s Cool in Steel” section in the August 2013 issue of MSC (available now!). Check out the issue to read about other cool steel projects including a Cool Cottage, a Cool Art Installation, a Cool Carousel and more.  


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