Historic Glass Restoration Projects

Renovating a historic building can sometimes make for a difficult project.  Not only will the building be full of surprises from the old building materials, but historic buildings also require special care.  It can be tempting to immediately start envisioning a new design, but keep in mind historic buildings tend to have complications that affect updating the building.  It is preferred by the Historic Preservation Committee's that as much of the original building remains intact.  The character of the building should be respected throughout the entire renovation process.  Substituting original building materials is inevitable, but any replacement material should match the original design, color, texture, and material as closely as possible.  Building codes and historic building regulations should be prioritized during the historic building restoration process.  

A team of qualified and experienced people can be quite helpful, providing assistance and understanding to the entire historic renovation project.  GBA has worked on numerous historic glass block renovation projects across America, making us a great resource for projects of this kind.  We take pride in researching the project to develop the best approach to meet the requirements of the Historic Committee to insure any and all Tax Credits available are captured if at all possible. We have designed new glass blocks and tooling to create glass block that will match or resemble the glass block that was installed decades earlier. Our large inventory of glass block can help you overcome some project hurdles or delays.  GBA works with the Owners, Design Team, and Historic Preservation Committees all across the United States to come up with the best possible solution to meet the project goals while being conscientious of the monetary costs of the project.

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Notable Glass Block Restorations
Hecht Company Warehouse in Washington, D.C.

The Hecht Company Warehouse became a symbol of architecture with its extensive and innovative use of glass block.  Hecht's was the first buildings nationwide during this time to use glass block in such a large scale application.  The building was originally built in 1937 and represented a major expansion to the one of the largest retailers in the city.

This six-story historic building was renovated into a mixed use residential and retail space.  It was important to maintain the iconic glass block exterior along New York Avenue and Fenwick Street.  GBA was tasked with developing a glass block design that matched the original glass block from the late 1930's.  We were able to develop a custom glass block design to match the existing glass block and we also matched the original mortar color.  This helped to maintain the integrity and original aesthetic of the historic building.   

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Knapp's Centre in Lansing, MI

Originally built in the 1930's, this six-story Art Moderne style building is considered one of the finest, intact examples of this building style in the Midwest.  Building owners decided to update this historic building from what once was a department store into a mixed-use retail and residential building.  The original Knapp's Centre used a historic, prismatic glass block to create four floors of ribbon glass block windows.  The original glass block allowed for light to be projected into the showrooms while distorting views to the outside.  GBA helped in the development of mock-up glass block window panels, keeping with the appearance and intent of the original design.  Approval was received to replace the original prismatic glass block with a clear glass block to allow new residents a view to the outside.  

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The Fox Building in Baltimore, MD

Formerly known as Noxzema or most recently Fox Industries, The Fox Building in Maryland has been transformed into an unique mixed-use building.  Noxzema Chemical Company produced two of America's most recognized brands: Noxzema Skin Cream (the so-called "Miracle Cream of Boston") and Cover Girl make-up.  Due to the marketing and brand efforts at the time, production increased making Noxzema relocate to a new factory nearby.  The Fox Building is home to residential apartments and art spaces with restored features such as the original maple wood plank flooring, glass block windows, 15' factory ceilings, and so much more!  The renovated historic building design met the requirements of both National and State Historic tax credits.  The Fox Building now includes 96 loft and studio style apartments with original floors, studio art space, and common areas such as a fitness center, pool, and theater.  

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Pioneer Tower in Fort Worth, TX

In 1936 architect Wyatt C. Hedrick designed three buildings for the Texas Centennial Celebration: an auditorium, a coliseum, and 208 foot tower sitting between both buildings.  Each building was designed using the classical revival and moderne styles.  Pioneer Tower was originally designed with columns of glass block on each side, which were illuminated at night.  In the late 1970's metal plates were placed over the glass block leaving the tower dark.  Elements of Architecture, architect of the restoration project, reached out to GBA to help find a glass block solution suitable for this historic renovation.  It was important that the glass blocks were as physically similar to the original glass blocks of the tower.   Pioneer Tower used 6,210 pieces of SEVES' 6x6x4 Argus Glass Blocks which were custom-manufactured to match the original, historic glass block.  The historic renovation of Pioneer Tower was completed in 2019, and the city hosted a relighting ceremony highlighting this iconic, Texas tower. 

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Youngstown Museum of Industry and Labor in Youngstown, OH

In this glass block renovation project, GBA was sought after to procure all the damaged glass block and replace them.  We met lead architect from the Ohio Historical Society, Meta von Rabenau, on site to collaborate on the upgrade plans and end goal of the renovation project.  GBA procured and replaced all damaged glass blocks, removed and repointed any necessary mortar joints, and upgraded them to a new, better performing modern sealant.  "Maintenance on the glass block to update and improve the system now, allowing another 30 years of peak performance seemed like a good investment," said Rabenau.  

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The GBA Advantage

From being in the construction industry for over 35 years, GBA has developed a network of partners in historic glass block renovation projects.  We have done glass block renovation and glass block remediation projects all across the United States.  We offer owners, architects, and designers glass block expertise unable to be compared to any other glass block distributor or manufacturer.  There is no need to worry about matching any existing glass block design - together with GBA, we promise to find a match or approved glass block alternative to meet Historic Preservation rules and guidelines.  

To discuss the possibility and advantages of incorporating GBA Structural Glass flooring or glass stair treads into your new construction or a remodel, contact one of the three numbers listed below or fill out our contact form.


Midwest: 877-280-7700

East Coast: 212-255-5787

West Coast:213-634-7050