Probably one of the most challenging yet rewarding projects in our 25 years of business. Topglass are proud to have completed a very large and specialist glazing contract on one of Dublin’s latest and very unique tourist attractions.
Pearse Lyons Distillery is truly history in the remaking. St. James’ Church dates back to the 12th century. The present church was constructed in 1859–1860 in a Gothic design with a cross shape, a tower and a spire at the southwest corner. In 1948, the top 30 feet of the church spire was removed due to structural problems. The church was then closed for worship following a decline in the number of parishioners in 1963. It underwent various transformations, including becoming a lighting store and a food warehouse, until finally being renovated as you see it today. This is a new beginning for St. James’ Church as a boutique, working distillery that will welcome visitors to discover its vibrant and colourful history. Purchased by the Lyons family in December 2013, a huge amount of time, energy and passion have been dedicated to renovating and rebuilding St. James’ Church. Located in the heart of the Liberties, The Pearse Lyons Distillery will provide a fresh lease of life into what was once the heart of the Irish beverage industry.
Topglass were awarded two contracts on this project over two years totalling almost €1.2m. The first involved something that we believe had never been attempted before, and was to replace the church spire, only this time as frameless glass spire. We worked closely over many months with the client, architects, glass engineers and the main contractor to develop a stunning solution for replacing the spire. At a height of 14m and set a further 24m above the ground, the end solution was the result of innovative design and engineering, and includes many unique and complex manufacturing/assembly solutions.
The spire is clad in 18mm thick glass consisting of two panes of 8mm heat-strengthened glass laminated together using a PVB laminate, complete with a thin layer of a special solar control film in the middle. This has the dual purpose of reducing the solar gain within the spire, and also giving a nice blue-grey tint to the glass, which complements the existing traditional stone and slate finishes on the church. The total weight of the spire (glass and steel) is 9700kg, or approximately 10 tonnes, The steel structure is made up of eight stainless steel rafters all converging to a point at the top, and is meticulously hand welded at all intersections. The glass panels have been fixed to the stainless steel frame structure using state-of-the-art bonding technology. No bolts or mechanical fixings were used to attach the glass panels to the carrier frames. All the joints between each of the panels were then sealed with another layer of weatherproof silicone sealant. This provides a beautiful frameless and seamless look to the spire.
After 18 months of planning, design and manufacturing the Spire left our factory at 3am on the 4th March 2016, in four pieces with special transportation to the site. With millimetre precision, it was assembled on top of the church by 6pm on the same day. Today this property can be identified from various points in the city by a unique, innovative spire that beautifully enhances the Dublin city skyline.
The second phase of the project involved the design, manufacturing and installation of the full glass façade to the new adjacent Visitors Centre. The 470m2 of aluminium curtain walling involved the use of heavy toughened laminated double glazing complete with solar control glass, and flush toggle units to the front façade. Also integrated into the glass on the front façade was a specially produced piece of artwork. The client commissioned us to design a full colour semi translucent image that represented the process of whiskey distilling. The image was hand painted in house using acrylics on canvas and then the finished image was recreated using a specialist hand screen printing process with ceramic inks and baked into the glass. The final piece is an amazing 12m x 6m spread over 18 panels and is the centre piece to this building.