Suspended 120 feet in the air at Boyne Mountain Resort in Northern Michigan, the world's longest timber-towered suspension bridge recently opened to the public. Though part of this beautiful ski and golf retreat, SkyBridge Michigan is a destination worth visiting in its own right. This thrilling footbridge spans 1,200 feet–the length of four football fields–and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Boyne Valley and surrounding hills. Halfway across SkyBridge is its most dramatic feature as the decking underfoot disappears and gives way to a 36' x 5' span of walkable glass. The transparent surface offers a stunning view of the valley floor, and ski run 118' below.
The GlassWalk™ glass floor, a remarkable feat of engineering and design, was expertly crafted by GBA Architectural Products + Services. Known for our expertise in glass block and glass flooring, this Ohio-based manufacturer, distributor, and installer has once again pushed the boundaries of innovation. Located in the charming town of Medina, GBA is renowned for our commitment to quality and attention to detail.
With the SkyBridge Michigan project, GBA was tasked with creating a glass floor that would not only provide a stunning visual experience but also withstand the harsh climate of northern Michigan. To meet these requirements, GBA developed a three-ply, 1-¼-inch-thick laminated structural glass flooring system. This state-of-the-art solution, combined with a custom-colored, powder-coated steel framework, ensures the utmost durability and safety for visitors.
The GBA team, consisting of project managers, designers, engineers, and fabricators, worked closely with Experiential Resources (ERi) to bring the vision of SkyBridge to life. Over the course of eight weeks, GBA meticulously designed, manufactured, laminated, and glazed the glass flooring panels, ensuring every detail was executed to perfection. Their dedication to excellence is evident in the early delivery of the glass, a testament to their commitment to meeting and exceeding client expectations.
One of the key considerations in the design process was the need for flexibility. Suspension bridges like SkyBridge must be able to sway under windy conditions to prevent strain on the support cables. GBA's innovative solution involved dividing the 36-foot glass span into six-foot sections, allowing each piece to move independently. This engineering marvel not only enhances the bridge's stability but also creates a unique and exhilarating experience for visitors as they traverse the glass floor.
GBA's work on SkyBridge Michigan has garnered praise from both their clients and the public alike. Kennerly de Forest, Project Manager at Experiential Resources, commended GBA for their exceptional service and seamless execution. The collaboration between GBA and ERi has been so successful that they are already planning future projects together, promising even more breathtaking experiences for visitors.
As the largest commercial installer of glass blocks in the country, GBA Architectural Products + Services has established itself as a leader in the industry. Their dedication to delivering exceptional products in a timely fashion, combined with their extensive range of glass solutions, has made them a go-to choice for architects, engineers, designers, and contractors nationwide. Whether it's glass block installations or cutting-edge glass flooring systems like GlassWalk™, GBA continues to push boundaries and redefine what is possible in the world of architectural glass.
"All of the elements of this project tied together perfectly. SkyBridge is an incredible way to experience nature's beauty and the open space's vastness. The transparency of the glass lends a sense of weightlessness to this truly unique experience," stated James Boesch, Senior Estimator at GBA Architectural Products + Services.
SkyBridge Michigan features an open-air design with mesh sides for views that are virtually unobscured yet safe. SkyBridge is linked to the Boyne Mountain trail system or can be accessed by chairlift.
Since 1985, GBA Architectural Products + Services has grown from installing residential glass block window projects in Northeastern Ohio to a national presence. Today, they are the largest commercial installer of glass blocks in the country. GBA works with the top architects, engineers, designers, and contractors on simple projects to the most complex ones, including landmark projects requiring structural glass, glass flooring, glass pavers, and glass block.
GBA has a national distribution network of wholesalers for their glass block materials and ready-to-install residential window panels. In 2020, they acquired IBP's GlassWalk product line of glass panels, glass flooring, glass stairs, and glass pavers.