What began as a design competition to develop a plot of open land behind Austin City Hall has become a towering monument to the needs of a dynamic urban environment and a tribute to the musical culture and environment of Central Texas. Thirty-seven stories high, the W Hotel Austin complex includes a hotel, spa, condominiums and retail spaces and is the new home of the famous Austin City Limits music venue. 

Austin, Texas-based Andersson-Wise Architects was selected to design the development, and BOKA Powell of Dallas later joined the team as architect of record. Chris Wise, AIA, and principal at Andersson-Wise Architects, said that although his firm often does smaller scale projects, he likes to use Kawneer products as a basis for design specs. This larger project began the same way: “Kawneer has good online details and technical support as well as providing a good product,” he said. So when they needed a product that could adapt to the unique needs of the W Hotel project, Kawneer was at the top of their list.

In constructing a tower complex with a seamless and graphic aesthetic, the architects didn’t want a wall with captured mullions. Instead, they worked with New Braunfels, Texas-based Win-Con Enterprises and Kawneer to develop a “tuning fork,” an inverted reveal where the mullion lines are hidden to give the tower a planar, abstract quality. This allows the glass and the Reynobond® ACM 4 mm PE and 4 mm FR Panels on the tower’s exterior to have an interesting light play element, blending with the expansive Texas sky on some sides and reflecting the lights of the city on others. To speed up construction without sacrificing quality, Kawneer’s PG 2500 Unitwall™ was utilized: “We needed a system that could put our project on schedule,” said Rod Pistokache, Project Manager with Win-Con Enterprises, “and Kawneer’s 2500 PG Unitwall™ did just that.”

Unlike many towers with flush or identical sides, each side of the W Hotel Austin responds to the environmental conditions differently depending on the amount of sun, shade and wind it encounters. The hotel is the largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®)* Silver certified building in the American Southwest region, and the only one that is mixed-use.

NOTE: Unfortunately, it was recently reported that several lites of glass fell from the balcony railing on the 24th floor of the hotel. Neither Win-Con Enterprises nor Kawneer were involved in supplying or installing this glass.

W Hotel Austin
Austin, Texas, USA

Andersson-Wise Architects, Design Architect
Austin, Texas, USA
BOKA Powell, Architect of Record
Dallas, Texas, USA

Glazing Contractor:
Win-Con Enterprises
New Braunfels, Texas, USA

Kawneer Products:
Custom 2500 PG Unitwall™ (4-side SSG)
HPS® (High Performance Sliding) Doors
2000T Terrace Doors

Additional Alcoa Products:
Reynobond® ACM 4 mm PE and 4 mm FR Panels
(Finish = AAP Pewter Colorweld®500)

*LEED is a registered trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council

© Wes Thompson Photography

The design and fabrication of a shopping mall addition requires a flexible sense of creativity as well as products that can make a new structure look like a seamless part of the whole. The architects and fabricators of the new Forever 21 store in Waikiki, Hawaii, wanted the exterior of the store to have a large glass atrium that showcased the retailer’s unique merchandise while also integrating with the existing aesthetic of the Royal Hawaiian Center Mall. 

With a tight construction schedule, Doran Chavez, Vice President of Reflections Glass of Waipahu, Hawaii, said they needed a manufacturer who could commit to a ship date and deliver as committed along with a vendor with strong customer support. He determined that Kawneer was the best choice. “Because of a complex design that had curved metal and curved glass we could not leave anything to chance,” Chavez said. “With a 22-week schedule from start to finish we needed to get things moving quickly and to do so we worked with several key people at Kawneer in order to meet the owner’s tight construction schedule.”

What resulted was a large open storefront using several products from Kawneer including its 1600 Wall System®1 curtain wall and EnCORE® framing with a corresponding bone white kynar finish.

The atrium was the biggest technical challenge – a three-story rotunda that required curved metal and curved insulated glass that is atypical of curtain wall fabrication. Like many Kawneer products, the wall systems and doors used were high-performance. Because of the store’s Hawaii location the energy requirements were not needed for thermal retention but for reducing solar heat gain.

“With a job this intricate there were several challenges that had to be overcome,” said John Moorvartian, Sales Representative with Kawneer. “However, we have a longstanding and strong working relationship with the team at Reflections and kept communications open to work out any obstacles as they arose. In the end we have a beautiful project and a happy customer.”

Forever 21 is a Los Angeles-based retailer that operates over 470 stores in 20 countries worldwide. The Waikiki store which opened to the public in December 2010 is the fourth and largest location in the Hawaiian Islands. The three-story, 42,000-square-foot Waikiki location was designed as one of the company’s flagship stores.

J. T. Nakaoka Associates Architects
Los Angeles, California, USA

Glazing Contractor:
Reflections Glass
Waipahu, Hawaii, USA

Kawneer Products:
1600 Wall System®1 curtain wall
500 Wide Stile Doors
Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 450 framing
EnCORE® framing (curved)

© Hawaiian-photos.com