A new “glass house” is slowly rising in Chicago. Though not technically a house, the building will be home to the Ironworkers (IW) Local 63 Training School’s newest curtainwall and window wall training center. IW 63 officials say the center will focus exclusively on training for curtainwalls, metal panel installations, storefronts, cranes and window walls.
The new facility is an expansion of the current campus, which trains members to erect unitized curtainwall systems, steel stairs and guardrails, ornamental and temporary fences, monuments and statues, as well as miscellaneous metals and glass handrails. IW 63 is located in Westchester, Ill.
“We’re going to make the new facility a ‘glass house,’” says business manager Paul Wende. “We’re going to be doing all our glass training in the building, separating it from the other building and leaving it for the iron, burning, welding and all the good stuff. We haven’t spent as much money as we would have liked on glass training, now we’re rectifying that.”
The building will be 50 feet tall and encased in glass. Wende says the exterior design will feature black glass with black frames. The building will have an hourglass shape, changing colors and reflections when the sun hits it. Wende adds IW 63 wanted to design a “statement piece” of who the organization is and what it’s about.
“It’s already accomplished that,” he says. “The way the architects and developers are talking, they want to partner with people who are this into what they do and are willing to invest in themselves.”
The facility is expected to open in spring 2024. Precast began in late August, and aluminum and glass installation, supplied by Tubelite and Prelco, began in September.
Wende says the facility will house various innovative equipment, enabling trainers to teach attendees how to better prepare for the modern age of glazing. This includes digital applications, an overhead crane, a manipulator, a Valla crane, and a water testing chamber, among others.
“We will have a water testing chamber in there,” says Wende. “We already had a moveable one that we played with a little bit. We had our teachers sabotage it, so our apprentices had to find where the leaks were and show them the value of caulking and putting the boots in and all the other things. We believe that will change how these kids look at this and pay attention to the details.”
The training in the new facility will be open to everyone associated with the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers Union. Wende says IW 63 recently became the regional training center for the association.
“We are going to open it up to everybody,” he says. “I want everybody to be able to enjoy it, especially those here in our district council. So, the facility will be open for all ironworkers across the U.S. and Canada.”