Glass prototype from one of five competing glass fabricators, May 2016

2050 M Street’s ambitious façade was made possible (and cost-effective) by a non-traditional procurement process. Typically, façades are bid using aesthetic and performance specifications, with final design assigned to the façade subcontractor. Doing so relinquishes aesthetic control and competitive leverage, as the interplay between quality and cost of both the glass and the overall system remain hidden to the owner and design team. On 2050 M Street, the design team pre-validated a prescriptive specification for all aspects of the custom, mullion-less, fluted glass system. This enabled the appearance, technical viability, and cost of the curved, laminated, insulated glass panels to be verified early in the design process by funding five fabricators to build identical prototypes and price the production of the prescribed glass build-up. With the initial cost range amongst fabricators varying nearly two to one, final prices were competitively negotiated by the owner and the best quality glass selected. Once the glass and its price were locked in, the pre-validated, prescriptive system design was competitively bid amongst multiple, qualified, specialist façade subcontractors. The pre-purchased glass was novated to the successful candidate, whose responsibility it was to provide final system design and engineering (notably, affirming the design team’s pre-validated design), means and methods, and delivery of fully fabricated curtain wall panels to the façade installer. The result was a highly customized façade purchased at reasonable cost because each component was procured independently, competitively, and transparently.


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Production of pre-purchased glass by selected glass fabricator, January 2017

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Testing of selected façade subcontractor’s performance mock-up, May 2017

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Novated glass fabricated into selected façade subcontractor’s curtain wall panels, July 2017

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First façade panels installed on CBS sub-building, which accounted for 10% of the building and was completed in 2018 to allow CBS TV studios to move in early, September 2017

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Construction of “knife-plate” pre-tensioned concrete slabs on remaining 90% of the building, April 2019

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Staging of façade panels, August 2019

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Novel bracket from below, August 2019

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