International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local Union 18

Los Angeles, California

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local Union 18 needed a new home after 60 years in an older brick building. Designers were faced with the challenge of not only constructing a new, high-tech home that would house the Union for another 50+ years, but to also create something that would seamlessly fit in with the surrounding residential community. The solution was simple; break the building up by using a product that, like the union, has stood the tests of time. That product was Pittsburgh Corning Glass Block.

“Our goal was to create a building that conveyed permanence, strength and longevity; the same characteristics that describe both the Union itself and the community surrounding it,” said design partner Jeffrey Kalban of Los Angeles-based Jeffrey M. Kalban & Associates. “The result was a calm, brick building that both the workers and the community were proud of.”

In order to blend in with the surrounding homes, designers created a low, two-story building with an almost timeless exterior. Instead of a several-story building that utilizes mostly steel and curtain walls, the IBEW is constructed mostly of brick and is broken up by a glass block cylinder that harvests the natural light while providing a contemporary look to the building.

It was glass blocks ability to both filter and diffuse the harsh light of the setting sun that made it the perfect product for the IBEW. As the sun sets, the glass block allows diffused light in and helps keeps heat out while louvers and sunshades built into the frame bounce light onto the ceiling and down the main hallway.

“We have very few cloudy afternoons here in Southern California, so we used glass block on the Western side of the building to diffuse light as the sun sets,” said Jeffrey Kalban. “Since daylighting plays such a major role in this building, artificial lighting isn’t usually needed until the evening hours.”

“Glass block is both esthetically rich and does many things to beautify the light,” Kalban said. “No other product could have given us the effects that we got from using glass block.”