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Design, Material Choices Might Have Led to Glass Falling From the $300 million
W Austin Hotel, Which Remains Closed


by Jeremy Schwartz, Austin American-Statesman
July 2011

Glass experts say a series of design and material choices probably contributed to breaking glass falling last month from stylish railings at the new W Austin Hotel and Residences.

And although the $300 million structure was built in compliance with the 2003 international building code in effect at the time, the latest version of the code would appear to prohibit the kind of glass that was used in the W railings, which left the relatively fragile edges of the panes exposed.

The Statesman has learned that, like most cities, Austin does not insist on the safest kind of architectural glass for guardrails or specifically require engineering inspections of exterior balconies on the high-rise buildings proliferating downtown.

The W opened in December as an instant landmark, a sleek luxury hotel in the heart of the revitalized Second Street District that some hailed as the latest example of Austin cool. Six months later, the hotel stood shuttered and the streets around it cordoned off after eight panes of glass had mysteriously shattered, falling from balcony railings more than 200 feet high and crashing to city streets below.

Crews work to remove one of the nearly 1,000 panels of glass from
balconies of the W Austin Hotel and Residences on Friday. Eight glass panels shattered and fell in three incidents last month, prompting the hotel to close.
For the rest of the story please visit:
http://www.statesman.com/news/local/design-material-choices-might-have-led-to-glass-1577747.html?cxtype=rss_ece_frontpage

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Contact: 

Jeremy Schwartz
Austin American-Statesman
jschwartz@statesman.com

 

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