Pilkington Spacia™ transforms “Bird Cage” staircase from replacement project to restoration project

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The "Bird Cage" staircase in the Milwaukee County War Memorial (Pilkington)


The Milwaukee County War Memorial is the only building designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen in all of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The War Memorial houses the “Bird Cage,” a double cantilevered staircase surrounded by a glass and steel curtain wall. Because it had been decades since any updates had been made, there was a point in which replacing the curtain wall entirely was a consideration. Due to the history of the building, it was imperative that restoration options be explored.

Pilkington Spacia™ vacuum insulated glazing opened up the opportunity for the historic staircase to be restored instead of replaced. Pilkington Spacia™ combines the thin profile of historic monolithic glass with the thermal efficiency of a thicker and heavier modern insulated glass unit. Additionally, it helps to reduce condensation and ice formation, key considerations for glass in Milwaukee.

Once the project was underway, all pieces were cut to custom sizes and installed without having to remove and replace the famous curtain wall. It now looks fresh while maintaining the historic look and integrity of the time period.

For more information on the project check out the video:

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