One of Austin’s newest landmark structures, Block 185, soars 35 stories into the Texas skyline. Known as Austin’s new “Google Tower”, the sail-like design placed creativity and innovation at the forefront of the tenets that would drive project design. The selection of a structural glass entrance façade that wraps the building’s lower levels was an obvious choice for the transparency, connection, openness and high-performance characteristics sought by the design team and the main occupant- Google.
The structural glass facades feature Sentech’s VetraFin-G System, a structural glass wall supported by glass fins that utilizes both flat and curved panels. The scope of structural glass totals approximately 2,769 square feet of low iron tempered insulated glass units with SGP laminate for the face panels and tempered, laminated glass for the fins.
“Block 185 reflects Austin’s unconventional character and puts forth the values of this extraordinary city, particularly with respect to the open public-space environment.”
– William E. Butler, AIA, LEED AP, Pelli Clark & Partners
Over the lifecycle of the project, the Sentech team came up with several creative solutions to design challenges encountered. Design of the curved glass and adjacent glass transitions proved to be an especially challenging structural engineering endeavor; the façade is isolated against in-plane movement, which induces warping at the corner panel transitions and creates large stress on the transition sealant joints. Several joint designs were analyzed until a configuration that had adequate flexibility and strength was achieved. Similarly, the design of the vestibules proved challenging, as the mid-span fins induced large dead load and wind load deflections of the vestibules frame, and the vestibule roof and side panels had to be supported with structural silicone connections to eliminate all framing connecting the portals.
Completed in 2022, the building is also certified LEED Platinum. The building with its sail-like shape stands near Lady Bird lake and creates an impressive architectural statement blending seamlessly with its surrounding environment. The all-glass façade at the base of the tower illuminates the surrounding architectural landscape and it’s curved corners blend in perfection with the overall design of the tower.
LEED Platinum Certified
2023 AIA Austin Design Award of Merit
2023 Finalist, Architizer’s 11th Annual A+ Awards
2023 Award of Excellence, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
2021 Bluebeam, Inc. Extreme Award’s Project of the Year