Interview Michael Ludvik, M. Ludvik Engineering

‘Laminated Glass News’ speaks to Michael Ludvik, founder of New York based M. Ludvik Engineering. We discover how his role involves delivering inspiration, peace of mind – and in some cases a bit of therapy – to nervous architects who are looking to push the bounds of structural glass.

The iFLY tubes / Image © M. Ludvik Engineering
Ludvik is using Transparent Silicone Structural Adhesive and SentryGlas® in the construction of 200 14 ft long 2 ft wide (4.2 x 0.6 m) glass cylinders that form a 70 x 70 ft (12 x 21 m) skylight/chandelier.
Image © M. Ludvik Engineering
Laminated glass slide made with SentryGlas® interlayer thrills riders in Los Angeles.
Image © M. Ludvik Engineering

Q. Tell us a little about you and your company?
I was fortunate to gain a lot of experience working under Tim MacFarlane who was a trailblazer in the field of structural glass. I started my own practice in 2010, forming a boutique firm of special structures and façade engineers. Our first project was the Queens Museum, where we completed a series of feature elements, including the Large Works Hanging Enclosure, the feature stair, a glass fin wall, and the entrance canopy. We also worked on the four entrances of the World Trade Center, each of which has a
blast-resistant cable wall.

Our clients include architects, buildings owners, artists, amusement companies and glazing contractors. We constantly maintain our expertise in glass and structural engineering and use it for everything from blank-sheet-of-paper designs all the way through to forensic analysis, covering structural glass, special structures, kinetic structures, door engineering, façade engineering and sculptures.

Q. Do you have a specific specialty or unique capabilities?
We have always focused on engineering special structures and glass, particularly feature elements. To put it very simply, we use structural engineering to create visually interesting things.

A museum for example would turn to us for a series of feature elements, such as a canopy at the front, a fancy elevator shaft, monumental stairs, chandeliers, skylights, feature walls, etc. These structures are frequently made from glass, and more often than not employ SentryGlas® ionoplast interlayer from Trosifol.

In terms of our further capabilities, in addition to structural glass, we are evolving our interest and capabilities in the deployment of newgeneration adhesives, such as Transparent Silicone Structural Adhesive (TSSA) from Dow. Indeed we are working on a big project in Los Angeles, which uses both TSSA and SentryGlas® in the construction of 200 14 ft long 2 ft wide (4.2 x 0.6 m) glass cylinders that are part of a 70 x 70 ft (12 x 21 m) structural glass truss, to create something that is like a cross between a skylight and chandelier.

We are also doing work that involves epoxies and other adhesives as well as many kinetic and moveable structures made with glass, including glass very large doors that move in weird ways, using center/side pivots or slides. We are finding that as architects get braver and more imaginative in their designs, many of them are coming to us, based on our experiences designing extraordinary structures.

Q. Do you have a signature style and approach?
We almost always adopt a first-principles approach. A lot of what we do is not covered by code, so we have to find a way to make interesting things but still backed by rigorous engineering. I have never really had a problem convincing architects to go along with unique designs – everyone wants to do it – although sometimes you’re more a therapist than an engineer and you need to control anxiety and irrational fear. Just because you are the first to do it or it is not in the code, it does not mean that it is not safe.

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