The Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor was built to commemorate the steel industry and the area's the role in it throughout the 20th century. The facility broke ground in 1986 and was designed to be reminiscent of a steel mill by the well-respected Architect Michael Graves. The museum is viewed as a salute to the workers and the products they toiled to produce.
The back entrance was designed with 12" x 12" x 4" and 8" x 8" x 4" Decora glass block. Being set in a structural steel framing system, it is reminiscent of what came out of the region's steel mills over the previous 100 years. Recently, Meta Von Rabenau, lead architect with the Ohio Historical Society, was tasked with determining what was needed to ensure the viability of the system for another 30 years. Her first call was to GBA, the largest U.S. supplier and installer of glass block for over 35 years. After meeting on site with Rabenau, we collaborated on a plan to replace any damaged block and upgrade the mortar and sealant components. In addition, our goal was to return the steel framing structure to a "like new" appearance and condition.
GBA proceeded to procure all damaged block in kind and replace them. We removed any necessary mortar and pointed up the joints, removed all caulk, and upgraded to the newer, better-performing modern sealants. All the steel was remediated, primed, and painted to replicate the look from opening day. GBA used a mortar sealant to inhibit moisture penetration into the glass block system. "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. The final product was everything Rabenau had hoped for when she started to look for a partner on this restoration project.