The Hancock tower in 1974, when windows with a tendency to pop out had to be replaced (a closer view).
Henry Cobb once said "Dramatizing the predicament is perhaps as legitimate a role in architecture as solving the problem"
A wall of my friend's law office is made out of panes salvaged from the Hancock when they replaced the glass.
Hancock is in good company. When the tower library at U. Mass. Amherst was designed, architects forgot to take into account that there would be books in a library. Windows and bricks having been popping out ever since!
I often hear tales like this about many different college libraries, but I'm going to call them all apocryphal unless you can provide a citation such as a newspaper article.
Believe it or not, I found out from a friend who works in Archives at the library that the brick/window issues is an urban legend. There is research that backs this up.... which I am too damned lazy to look for right now!
It's true. And it's why till this day there's a fence around the entire library not allowing you to go within 30 or so feet of it except over by the entrance where there's a overhang built.
I think the bigger problem is it being a huge 30 story or so tower, on a hill in a valley, in the middle of Berkshire farmland.
Winter or summer it tends to pull down winds from above and create huge wind tunnels on the ground, even though it's the only structure.
My BIL was there when it opened and, yes, it spat brick chips. It is also sinking due to the weight of the building, but not a whole lot or very fast.
HOWEVER it was due to poor quality of construction of the brick facade, not design that ignored the weight of the books! We are talking MA, construction, late 60s ... um, yeah, that.
Another explanation for the spalling is that an unnamed administrator, distressed over the amount of white cement Brutalist architecture on campus, ordered as last minute change from white to red brick which wasn't properly accounted for. More likely that the builder selected a "less costly alternative for the builder" material for the grout and bricks, etc.
Second only to the Molasses flood. I always carry photos around of the building on tours because tourists rarely believe me when I tell them about the building's plight.
The glass was an early version of low-e double glazing. The problems stemmed from a combination of the bonding material in the composite panes and the square corners where there were joints ... square corners being known in materials and mechanical engineering as incubators of stress and cracks.
When the joints worked properly, they worked well. The problem was that it was hit-or-miss whether the bonds were too strong. Strong bonding material meant that the glass and the bond had different properties under wind loading, resulting in glass failure at the highest stress points.
Case Study 1: Hancock Tower
The most well-known failure of windows on the Hancock Tower, located in Boston, MA in the USA, is commonly attributed to the bond layer material. Some originally attributed to nickel sulfide inclusions, although this was later disproved. (Johnson 2008). The failure began in 1972, while the building was still under construction, but it became especially significant during a wind storm in January of 1973. The bond material created too strong of a connection, leading to pieces of the glass being pulled off the pane at the glass-bond layer interface. Glass is ill-equipped to cope with the stress increases associated with this edge damage, and therefore underwent spontaneous failure of the glass. Following the discovery of this issue, all 10,344 glass panels on the building were replaced with tempered glass at a very high cost (estimated to be $5-7 million at the time of the replacement). Much less known is that some of these replacement panels suffered from nickel sulfide failure (Schwartz 2001). An exact number of panels that failed as a result of NiS was unable to be determined.
I had a sliding door on the back porch that was of this design, and vintage ... but didn't have the same problem.
At least the building didn't crash, like some of the early DeHavilland Comet airplanes: http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation%20history/coming%20of%20age/De%20Havilland%20Comet.htm
(note to Craiggles: both these window failures and the Molasses flood failure were lecture subjects in Materials Science at MIT)