Glass Used as Walls

Since most clients choose glass walls to be installed for residential house, what are the remedies (structural design) to resist lateral forces?


Use the glass structurally! See image below of a project we did about 10 years ago with the glass holding up the roof. Shown during construction so you can see the connections etc…

A few points:

  • glass is infinitely strong in compression
  • structural silicone between panels makes the panels work together in plane as a pretty effective shear wall
  • there was another concrete shear wall out of the shot.
  • project was in Santa FE, NM
  • it was laminated glass and had other layers of redundancy built into the concept.

See below for another glass wall building - with glass beams and a glass roof also. We completed in Times Square NYC in 2008:

Above is a snippet.

No material is “infinitely” strong in compression, but glass does behave exceptionally well in spherical (triaxial) compression, as with a bathesphere.

Other than that, I would be interested to see the lateral model for the first building if the glass is used as a shear wall.

Since there are no values in the IBC for glass used as a shear wall, any values used would have to be justified with certified lab testing. No exceptions.

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Every material, particularly thin membranes such as the examples above, will resist compression up to some point of collapse defined by (for example) Euler buckling. That is definitely not “infinite”.

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