Benjamin Franklin Museum, Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]


Quinn Evans Architects [Website]



Historic Renovation of Benjamin Franklin Museum brings Architect’s Vision to Life with customized solution from SAINT-GOBAIN GLASS

The Benjamin Franklin Museum officially re-opened to the general public in September 2013 after a tow-year, $ 24 million renovation project that included updates to exhibits and enhancements to the architectural design of the building. SAINT-GOBAIN GLASS Exprover provided a customized glass solution for the museum through ECKELT Glas. We supplied glass for the impressive curtain wall at the building’s entrance and an extremely wide bay window allowing expansive views from inside the museum.

The aim of this retrofit project was to make the museum entrance more attractive and welcoming. The solution: replacing the fabric awning by a curtain wall helped create a foyer and easier access to the museum in the basement. The glazing combined extra clear DIAMANT glass, with customized SERALIT LITEX [>] screen printing and low-e CLIMAPLUS ULTRA N II [>] for optimum energy performance and maximum daylight transmission. The curtain wall recapitulates the Flemish bond pattern of Venturi’s brick garden wall with glass “bricks” as large as eight feet in length. A custom ceramic frit pattern is applied to the outer glass surface using images derived from photos of the original hand-molded brick. “We searched for a special glass manufacturer that could bring our vision to life”, said Carl Elefante, FAIA, Principal at Quinn Evans. “SAINT-GOBAIN made it possible for us to experiment with the pattern, color and application technique until we achieved a visual effect that provides the right balance between transparency and reflectivity.”

In order to create pieces of glass that emulate the texture of brick, SAINT-GOBAIN had to customize the glass by moving the fritted layer, conventionally on the inner surface of glass, to the outer surface and heat-fusing the frit to ensure durability. By moving the frit to the outer surface it more effectively captures natural light as conditions fluctuate throughout the day. With glass located at both the outer and inner pane of the curtain wall framing, a “shadow box” effect is achieved, further intensifying the play of light.

Eckelt also provided glass for the very large window designed to provide views of the Ghost House as visitors exit the exhibit. The view window is fabricated with two 8’ by 16’ pieces of low-iron laminated glass, each weighing approximately 1,200 pounds, that are joined by a single vertical sealant joint in the middle.

Images: Joseph M. Kitchen