In Hollywood, Florida, the weather is downright lovely 90% of the year. The 10% of time when the weather isn’t, it can be deadly. With the extremes of heat and rain, plus the danger posed by hurricanes, the exteriors of construction projects in Florida bear more responsibility for the comfort and safety of tenants than is required in other parts of the country. With an aging building on their hands and the annual threat of severe weather overhead, the owners of Ganot Plaza faced a conundrum. Built in the late 1970s, the bones of the structure remained strong and usable, but the exterior, 50% glass and 50% stucco, had seen better days.
Constructed before hurricane-resistant standards were commonplace, the existing curtainwall wasn’t impact resistant, and the aluminum framing had suffered during the nearly 40 years of intense Florida sun. The original glass façade had inconsistent film that struggled to keep out sunlight, causing discomfort for the building’s tenants. And from an insulation standpoint, the windows were a sieve, letting cold air out and water leakage in. The building’s owners were paying a fortune in cooling costs while water damage wreaked havoc. In addition, Ganot Plaza is located near a highway and at times the roar from passing traffic was tremendous. The exterior bore visible signs of this distress and ownership feared it was affecting their ability to attract “Class A” lease tenants.
Many factors weighed against a tear-down/rebuild, so in pursuit of the most fiscally responsible and environmentally friendly action, project manager David Loper and his team at Ganot Capital LLCdecided that an exterior façade renovation was their best bet. After receiving multiple proposals, including several “low-ball” offers from companies they found questionable, Loper and architect Iraj Shojaie chose Minnesota-based architectural glass fabrication manufacturer Viracon. As Loper explains, “We interviewed several glass companies and heard good reports on Viracon, regarding the quality of their products and service reputation, but ultimately it meant more to us to choose a reliable US manufacturer than simply getting the lowest price.”
Viracon has been providing materials to builders since 1970. Their dedication to quality made them the first US glass manufacturer to achieve ISO certification from SGS Yarsley ICS. The company’s widely dispersed client-base included office buildings, hospitals, museums, residences, and more. Having completed many projects in Florida, the Viracon team was ready and willing to meet the client’s diverse needs. For the Ganot Plaza project, Viracon focused on the three essential requirements: hurricane resistance to the extreme nature of the Florida climate; energy efficiency to save the building and tenants on HVAC costs; and the exterior must be aesthetically striking to upgrade the “curb appeal” of the building.
After assessing the relatively extreme requirements of the project, Viracon presented VUE-30, their most high-performance coated glass, as an optimal solution. Engineered to meet the increased market demand for low-emissivity coating glass, VUE-30 helped Ganot Plaza project exceed domestic energy code requirements. The glass also offered the transparent appearance requested for the project, making the building visually pleasing while also allowing for natural light, reduced glare, and optimal rates of heat gain and visible light transmittance. With plans to encase the building in Viracon glass, the tenants of Ganot Plaza were due for increased comfort, but safety remained a concern.
To attain the appropriate level of hurricane resistance, Viracon delivered the glass to local Florida glaziers, Crawford-Tracey Corporation, who know the dangers of hurricanes all too well. The glazing utilized Pro-Tech 7SG, a seven-inch, four-sided structurally glazed curtainwall system that is approved by both Miami-Dade County and State of Florida building requirements. Crawford-Tracey Corporation then installed the exterior façade ensuring safety standards that met or exceeded Florida’s stringent codes.
With the addition of some interior renovations, including roof insulation and an updated HVAC system, the results speak for themselves. By choosing to renovate rather than rebuild, Ganot Capital limited the environmental impact of the upgrade while still meeting all goals for the project. Loper estimates that the building is saving upwards of 40% in energy costs, and the owners and tenants can rest assured knowing the building is well protected during hurricane seasons for years to come. And regarding curb appeal, the change is nothing less than transformative. The building has been born anew, with crisp clean lines that shimmer in the persistent Florida sun. “No matter how bright the sun is,” comments Loper, “when you look outside it feels like you’re wearing sunglasses.” After earning Loper’s certification as “the most beautiful building in the area,” Ganot Plaza has reached 40% occupancy, with more leases to come once interior suites are complete.