Acid-Etched Glass at Volvo’s Flagship Building Design

A finely tuned automobile and a refined architectural design have a lot in common. You may not notice the perfect lines, exquisite proportions and finishing details at first, but they do register in your subconscious. For the luxury carmaker Volvo and its dealer, Johnson Automotive, the mission has always been to deliver the best customer experience possible, and their new dealership in Durham, North Carolina, fulfills that promise. In this sleek building, acid-etched glass at Volvo’s new dealership optimizes natural daylight to create a welcoming, well-designed space.

Natural Daylight 

When Patrick M. Kennedy, AIA Architect, and the team at CJMW Architecture took on this project, they set out to create a structure that would blend Johnson Automotive’s aesthetic ideals with Volvo’s exacting brand standards. They needed a building that would not only showcase the vehicles on display, but also communicate the very essence of the brands’ collaboration.

With their clients’ customer service mission in mind, Kennedy and CJMW prioritized comfort and wellbeing in their design process, paying special attention to the flow of daylight through the space.  To bring out the best in the lofty showroom, Kennedy chose a Velour acid etch finish Surface #1 from Walker Glass, with further fabrication by Viracon. The Velour finish allows a smart amount of light in the space (as etched products are designed to do) to promote the well-being of the building’s occupants while showcasing the impressive cars to best advantage. Notably, Kennedy limited his use of transparent windows, opting instead for a semi-opaque finish on many surfaces.

“Many clients like the idea of more natural light into a building, but may not necessarily want visibility,” Kennedy explained, “so the use of frosted glass is perfect for this. We can carefully select which panels will be vision glass, and which will be frosted glass to help tailor the interior experience for the client and customers.  In the Volvo dealership, the very specific areas of vision glass allowed us to frame views of the interior to help showcase the vehicles.”

Bringing out the Best in Volvo’s Space with Acid-Etched Glass

This project presented a unique need to flatter a fleet of luxury cars while ensuring human comfort. Walker Glass was thrilled to be able to contribute to this complex design challenge through the use of its Velour acid etch offering.

“Our line of etched glass has enabled architects and building owners to realize their design dreams – from legendary aquariums to iconic hockey arenas,” explained Charles Alexander, Walker’s VP of Sales and Marketing. “Each project has a special goal to be reached. In this case, our Velour etch was able to accentuate Volvo’s elegance through light diffusion and provide a warm, comfortable customer and employee experience within the dealership space.”

To achieve the façade’s deep blue statement panel, Viracon built on the Walker Velour with four layers of Vanceva colored PVB laminated interlayer. The final effect is a unique combination of color and luster, shifting chameleon-like between the looks of glass and specialty fabricated metal panels.


Oversize Acid-Etched Glass Panels

The oversized glass panes in the building’s façade required unusually large glass units measuring at 48” x 100” and 48” x 154”. These sizes were fabricated from stock sheets in sizes up to 100” x 204” in order to optimize cut yields and speed up job site deliveries. Walker used Vitro’s 6mm Starfire low iron substrate in fabricating its full surface velour in order to ensure the highest quality of light transmission.

Thanks to the method in which Walker’s etch glass is manufactured, Viracon was able to add a proprietary neutral appearance low-e coating on the far inboard lite on position 5 for excellent U-Values in the 0.24 to 0.28 range. Viracon was also able to treat the etched glass to mitigate glare and reduce UV transmittance to less than 1%.

“Everyone at Walker is super excited to be part of this project. It brings out the best in our Velour offering – from jumbo sizes and superior cutting yields to the visual and thermal performance aspects of the glass itself.  We’re elated to be part of Volvo’s North American dealership building design roll out over the coming months and years.”
– Charles Alexander, Vice-President Sales & Marketing at Walker Glass.

In the end this building is like a finely tuned automobile. It serves its occupants – both humans and cars – by channeling the very best that its components have to offer. From the largest structural panels to the smallest surface detail, acid-etched glass at Volvo​ brought the architects’ vision to life and fulfilled the clients’ mission: to deliver the best possible customer experience.

About CJMW – from Patrick M. Kennedy, AIA, Architect

CJMW Architecture is the direct descendent of a one-man architectural practice started in 1906. Since then, the firm has been passed internally from one group of partners to the next. Many of the current principals have been with the firm for fifteen to twenty years, with two of our senior partners both starting with the firm in the 70’s. So there has been a sense of continuity over the years as each ‘generation’ mentors the next. CJMW is built on the foundation of a group of talented individuals with a commitment to the shared values of integrity, design excellence, collaborative spirit, and community service.

We’ve grown quite a bit since that original one-man office – we now have a team of fifty that includes architects, interior designers, and other professional staff in four offices in North Carolina and Virginia. We’ve made a conscious choice to maintain a broad practice with several focus markets that include hospitality, workplace educational and senior living design in addition to car dealerships.

Learn more about CJMW

About Walker Glass

Through seven decades, Walker Glass has grown, evolved and constantly adapted to an ever-changing business environment. Walker Glass is the North American market leader in decorative glazing substrates. While many things have changed over the decades, the most important things have remained constant. Adherence to our mission and remaining true to our core values are the trusted foundations of the Walker Glass of yesterday, today and the decades to come.

Learn more about Walker Glass

About Viracon

As an international company, Viracon offers the most complete range of high-performance architectural glass products available worldwide. Viracon not only fabricates glass, they also deliver design, aesthetic, budget and performance solutions. Viracon can perform virtually any glass fabrication process needed for a commercial building project. Viracon’s complete product line includes insulating, laminated, silk-screened, spandrel, hurricane-resistant, acoustical, blast-mitigating, heat-treated and high-performance coated glass. Viracon prides itself on a commitment to deliver the highest quality, with the widest variety of customized architectural glass solutions for the creation of distinctive commercial buildings around the world.

Learn more about Viracon

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