Skyline Design’s Solution:
Architect of Record Hollis + Miller, who had hosted a presentation by a Skyline Design sales representative, had originally suggested glass as an alternative to resin. Maintenance was a key factor because “you don’t see fingerprints on resin,” said Rienth. “And that was important to us because the ribbon railing was so close to the kids’ area.” To alleviate this concern, Skyline Design proposed a velour finish on the “touchable,” or inside, surface of the glass, which would absorb fingerprints and prove as forgiving a material as the resin. “Maintenance, longevity, kids not jamming fingers into anything—we had a lot of concerns. But glass turned out to be safe and beautiful,” said Morin. And because Skyline Design worked with Rienth and Morin to value-engineer the project, glass also proved to be less expensive than resin. Once glass had been selected as the material, Skyline Design and the architects began a careful sampling process for the design and lighting schemes and further finishes. Skyline Design prepared samples of printed glass, etched glass, regular polish, and a matte version. The architects chose from the company’s vast pattern library for the base pattern of Make Letters, which was then customized for gradient and density. “The letters of the glass pattern really resonated in the space with Johnson’s artwork,” said Rienth. “One of the library’s missions is to support lifelong learning, and we thought the Make Letters pattern really embodied that.” Multiple rounds of customization—for the font, the fading, and the density of the letter spacing—ensured that the finished project pleased the clients and architects. On each of the 48” x 78” panels, letters appear to be tumbling from above, growing from a light shower at the top of each panel to a dense symphony at the bottom. Mimicking the creation of a book, where letters accumulate and find order, the pattern was a beautiful match for the mission of the building. Sample panels were tested on-site in a mock-up of both the interior and exterior applications before the full production run. Ultimately 63 panels were produced after multiple rounds of customization, ensuring that the architects and clients received exactly what they wanted.
The Lenexa City Center Library, at 40,000 square feet, was completed ahead of schedule, with the glass ribbon railing beautifully meeting the functional and decorative needs of the project. “Our firm customizes everything,” Rienth said, “so Skyline Design’s willingness to work with us through multiple rounds of samples really resonated. Whether it was a printed mock-up vinyl or a physical glass sample, they were quick to get us what we needed. The process was smooth, and we’re really pleased with how it went.” And so are library patrons, judging from online reviews of the building. “They spared no effort or expense for this beautiful new facility!” wrote one satisfied customer. “Best children’s library!” wrote another. “There’s so many play areas, it really makes it fun to go to the library and then helps kids get familiar with going and loving books.” The library—with glass as a central design element—is an open, welcoming, and civic space, well placed to help Lenexa and the Johnson County Library System sustain the vitality of its community through the coming decades.