Light Well - Research on Materials
Summary: New materials such as multi-layer laminated glass panels can be used indoors and outside. Older materials include glass block pavers and plastics such as lexan and Plexiglas. The material below is about laminated glass, some other possibilities are shown in the column at right.
Laminated Glass Panels:Redding Sundial Bridge - uses laminated glass panels outdoors. Follow the link to info on their bridge. According to their description: "The 2,240 nonskid translucent glass panels that form the surface of the bridge were made in Quebec. Beneath are 210 lights, one-third facing downstream, one-third facing upstream, the rest facing up. A factory in Vancouver, Wash., prefabricated the steel." The glass weighs approximately 158 tons, 316,000 lbs total or approx 141 lbs per panel.
The glass panels were fabricated by Oldcastle Glass in Fremont, CA and Prelco Inc. in Quebec, Canada (can't find website for Prelco). Here is an article about how the glass panels were designed; the article comes from Solutia/Vanceva, the company who supplied the "interlayer" that goes between the layers of glass. Solutia competes with DuPont in this area, see below for info from DuPont.
Apple Stores in San Francisco, SoHo and elsewhere are using a glass laminate material. According to online reports this is: "2 inch thick Dupont SentryGlass a three-layer laminated glass product highly polished on the edges to make it look like a single piece of glass. This is what they typically use for bulletproof/bombproof windows, but it is now being used as structural material." DuPont has material on their page (see link above) showing applications. DuPont makes the laminate material, other fabricators do the laminating.
DuPont-Apple article - discusses Apple installation using SentryGlass.
DuPont-Bridge article - about Australian bridge, outdoors, like Sundial.
DuPont-NBC store - NBC retail store uses laminated glass pavers.
DuPont-Italian Pavers - Church uses glass paving stones for visibility.
DuPont - Glass Magazine article from DuPont manager in Glass magazine.
DuPont - Fougeron - from 2000, mentions Bay Area project resources.
Anne Fougeron Architect - SF based architect, mentioned in article above.
TempGlass Western of Fremont ((510) 651-2292) is mentioned in Fougeron article and others, for SF-Bay Area fabrication projects. For example in this article about the a Yuerba Buena project.
Glass Block Pavers
GlassWalk Floor Systems from IBP are designed for flooring applications and include two categories: glass pavers (as shown below) and laminated glass panels (like those used in Apple and Sundial applications as shown above). IBP is based in Fort Worth, TX and is a part of Acme Brick a Berkshire-Hathaway company (i.e. Warren Buffet). Below is a picture of the Spokane Valley Mall in Spokane, WA. Follow the link to the IBP web page with information about various types of glass flooring.
Flooring Article (1998) - perhaps dated (8+ years old), but this article talks about the IBP glass block system in use at the Spokane Valley Mall. The article mentions that the system works with glass block from Solaris, Weck and Pittsburgh Corning. However at their web site Pittsburgh Corning indicates that their glass block is non-load bearing.
Solaris is a German company, one distributor is North America Glass
Weck is a German manufacturer of glass block, distibuted by
Glass Block Products with a warehouse in San Leandro. Does not seem to discuss flooring applications.
Bob Vila Article about glass block flooring, from 2001, emphasizes how heavy the panels are.
Circle Redmont supplier of glass blocks, based in Florida, they produce pre-fabricated panels of blocks.
Vetroarredo an Italian company, with US subsidiary in Pennyslvania, they make glass floor pavers as shown below.
Technical Glass Products "TGP" is based in Kirkland, Washington and has a variety of interesting products, including Pilkington ProfileIT and some Decorative Glass, including Glass Ore and Aqua Glass (below).
Nathan Allan Glass Studios Based in British Columbia, they make many products for architectural glass, including glass stair treads and glass landings for a mall. Generally looks to be a custom manufacturer.
UltraGlass is based in Southern California (Chatsworth) and works in glass for architectural applications. Mentions glass floor tile (laid over subfloor) and can do laminated glass too. Custom manufacturer?
Artwork in Architectural Glass. This site has a clip from a TV show, showing a glass floor in an indoor setting. They offer glass stair treads and some glass flooring (show Indian Casino project). They are based in Georgia and have branch in Newport Beach.
GlassFiles.com An online discussion forum for glass professionals, has some Q&A discussions about laminated glass engineering standards.
Glazeguard a UK based company that makes various forms of glass flooring products for distribution in the UK. Too far to be practical, but provides background information about possibilities.
Roger Wilde a UK company that specializes in glass flooring.
Polyvinyl butyral (or PVB) is a resin usually used for applications that require strong binding, optical clarity, adhesion to many surfaces, toughness and flexibility. It is prepared from polyvinyl alcohol by reaction with butanal. The major application is laminated safety glass for automobile windshields. Tradenames for PVB-films are: BUTACITE, SAFLEX, S-Lec, TROSIFOL