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  • Novum is always excited to collaborate with architectural designers and assist in making their concepts a wondrous reality. Fully understanding our clients’ creative vision, while paying close attention to critical structural engineering details and a precise project budget, results in brilliant solutions like the free form skylight at Willis Tower in Chicago.

    The Willis Tower repositioning project was introduced to Novum in November 2016 as a prospective Designer Assist opportunity. At the 95% design development stage, Novum developed a systems-based solution using our Block Knoten (BK) and Edge Clamped Glass (ECG) Systems with a toggle solution for submission to the design team. At this important stage of development, consideration of our customers’ needs enabled us to collaborate with the entire architectural team and provide an accurate proposal that addressed any concerns early in the design stage.

    Novum was awarded a Designer Assist contract in early 2017 with the goal of being complete by July 2018. Throughout the Designer Assist process, Novum updated the Price Tracker after every meeting which provided the team with exact budgeting throughout project development. As design changes were requested and developed, Novum immediately reported impacts to the budget by leveraging our in-house engineering and manufacturing capabilities, as well as our global sourcing network. Novum's "Real-Time Budgeting" gave the owner peace of mind knowing he was getting exactly what he wanted from a design perspective while maintaining strict control over the bottom line.

    At the conclusion of the Designer Assist process, Novum was selected and contracted to furnish and install the glass and steel skylight. The awarded scope included full engineering, fabrication, and installation of all structural steel and glass for the skylight. Due to strict permit provisions, and high traffic volume during normal working hours, we were faced with a problematic installation sequence and a very tight schedule. Novum’s Preconstruction Designer presented an intriguing solution that would allow for uninterrupted deliveries of glass and steel by utilising a tall crane at three o’clock in the morning. Our relentlessness to overcome an incredibly challenging schedule, as well as our determination to deliver the project within tight confines, led to the successful installation of “Chicago’s New Hill.”


    The Free Form skylight is 6,900 square feet of steel and glass spanning an opening of 75ft x 85ft. The steel structure utilises square HSS members with a hidden bolted connection to our BK nodes. The glass attaches to the supporting steel via toggled Edge Clamps to eliminate a visual cap on the exterior of the skylight.

    The Novum Designer Assist Process was used in collaboration with our in-house engineering, fabrication, supply, and installation capabilities, to provide an integrated skin + structure solution for the skylight. By utilising our expertise in the understanding of fabrication possibilities, engineering challenges, site conditions, logistics, and other related impacts to the budget, Novum was able to guide the project team through the difficult process of building an iconic architectural element. Novum Designer Assist is a value-added service that turned the Willis Tower Repositioning project into a celebrated structure as Chicago's newest "hill."

Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Size: 6,900 sq ft / 690 sq m

Systems Used: Block Knoten, Edge Clamped Glass

Architect: Gensler

General Contractor: Turner Construction Company + Clayco, Inc.

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