Wausau's Curtainwall Provides High-Security Performance for Federal Reserve Bank's Detroit Branch

The Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) of Chicago expanded its Detroit branch operations to a newly built 240,000-square-foot facility. Opened in 2005, it is one of the first government structures in the country to address heightened security measures mandated by the U.S. government after September 11, 2001. For the financial center's blast-resistant curtainwall system, glazing contractor Harmon, Inc. called upon Wausau Window and Wall Systems to help meet these requirements and protect its occupants.

Designed by SmithGroup of Detroit and overseen by the Grand Rapids, Michigan joint venture of Skanska/W3,the new FRB branch office replaces an existing location constructed in 1926, one of the oldest in the Federal Reserve System. With an 18-month construction schedule, the massive design-build project quickly took shape in downtown Detroit. Fitting within this timeline, the majority of the FRB's high-security curtainwall system installation occurred over just six months.

"We threw a lot of resources at it, drawing from the expertise of several markets and a multitude of people. They told us what to watch for and reviewed our shop drawings to make sure we were avoiding any problems," says Harmon's general manager Bill Kruger. "The additional project support was instrumental in keeping us on schedule."

Among Harmon's collaborators, Wausau's staff engineered and custom-fabricated an 18,998-square-foot, factory-glazed, steel-clad system for on-site installation. Additionally, Wausau provided 2,252-square-feet of its factory-glazed 6250 Superwall and 735-square-feet of its 8250 Superwall for field glazing by Harmon. The curtainwall system also includes 1,910-square-feet of Wausau's 8156 Series slopewall. Linetec painted all exposed framing elements in a durable Champagne Gold finish. Viracon supplied the systems' high-performance glass.

Harmon also manufactured and installed a blast mitigating, unitized curtainwall and strip windows, interior hollow metal attack- and bullet-resistant framing and glass systems, entrance leafs including high-security doors by Norment Industries, and more than 80,000-square-feet of composite panel provided by Sobotec, Ltd. In its entirety, the sum of these carefully engineered and manufactured components are designed to withstand both high winds and close-proximity blast loads.

Harmon's project manager Danny Bostic, Jr., emphasizes, "Coordination of our work with other trades was another big challenge," and was critical to maintaining the specified performance. He explains, "Our bomb blast-resistant curtainwall system was installed over a structural steel tube support system that was installed by another trade. Every vertical and horizontal mullion of our system had to align with a corresponding steel mullion directly behind it. Due to the tight tolerances of our aluminum and glass system the steel needed to be installed within a quarter-inch tolerance, which is well above typical structural steel tolerances. Since the steel location was to be determined by the curtainwall mullion location we specified the exact location for the installation of over 1,000 pieces of structural steel."

"Another unique challenge was the weight of the products we used for this project," Bostic recalls. "In order to meet the bomb blast, bullet and attack resistant requirements of the Federal Reserve we had to use some pretty heavy-duty materials… For example, a single lite of glass could weigh up to 1,100 pounds. Getting the material off-loaded and distributed throughout the project was a job in itself."

"To alleviate some of the headaches associated with such heavy-duty systems and time-critical projects, we sequence shipments for easier off-loading and installation," says Kevin Robbins, Wausau's regional sales and marketing manger. "Additionally, our unitized systems can further streamline this process by pre-fabricating the various components into large, pre-assembled units that can be crane-lifted from the truck and quickly set into their place on the building."

With the correct tools and innovative approaches, the project's many challenges became accomplishments, Bostic says, "We were glad to have a part in building such a monumental project for the city of Detroit." The completed facility now offers FRB's 275 employees a secure working environment with state-of-the art systems for check clearing, currency processing, economic analysis and conferences, and support services.

Nationally recognized for its innovative expertise, Wausau Window and Wall Systems is an industry leader in engineering window and curtain wall systems for commercial and institutional construction applications. For 50 years, Wausau has worked closely with architects, building owners and contractors to realize their vision for aesthetic beauty and lasting value, while striving to maintain the highest level of customer service, communication and overall satisfaction.

Wausau is a part of Apogee Enterprises, Inc., a publicly held, U.S. corporation. For more information on Wausau Window and Wall Systems, please call 877-678-2983, or visit http://www.WausauWindow.com.

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