News from the Block, Innovate Building Solutions Blog
News from the Block, Innovate Building Solutions Blog
Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block
Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block

Project Spotlight: St. Agatha Church Improves Safety & Looks While Reducing Energy Costs with Glass Block Windows– Columbus Ohio

Before - St Agatha Church Gymnasium Windows
Before - St Agatha Church Gymnasium Windows broken and cracked blocks

The problem: St. Agatha Church in Columbus Ohio had a legitimate concern about the functionality and safety of deteriorated old glass block windows in several second story windows surrounding their gymnasium. Some of these challenges included:


  • A good number of the 70 to 80 year old glass blocks (which used an old cold fusing technology) had been cracked and some had even retained water.  There was a concern about a block cracking and injuring someone or damaging the wood gym floor.


  • The old glass block installation was not properly done with materials to allow for expansion and contraction and therefore the mortar joints were failing and had been patched with silicone caulk several times over the years.


After St Agatha Church Windows with new glass blocks
After St Agatha Church Windows with new glass blocks
  • The broken and dingy old blocks (glass blocks used to be manufactured with the pattern on the outside which retained dirt & debris) did not provide a nice appearance for the gym or provide as much natural light as was desired.


  • The energy efficiency of the old blocks was not up to modern standards.

The product solution and design approach: The Principal and Head of Maintenance of St. Agatha’s Church of Columbus met with John Carter (Sales Representative) and Sean Malmsberry (Branch Manager) of Columbus Glass Block. A wave style of glass blocks was chosen as the main glass block pattern to maximize the natural light and increase the energy efficiency vs. the old blocks. In order to create a decorative “A” pattern (to signify St. Agatha) an Iceberg pattern was chosen to contrast with the wave pattern blocks. (note: a more dramatic way to make this design “A” stand out would have been to use colored glass blocks – although this approach was not chosen for this project).


The glass block fabrication process: Sean (the Branch Manager) chose to prefabricate these church windows in his factory to reduce the field installation time and improve the finished quality. The glass block sections were mortared together and wire reinforcing was included inside the sections for additional strength.


The field installation approach: The field installation was challenging because the old cold fused glass blocks needed to first be removed and care was needed to not damage either the wood floor on the inside of the gym or the rubber roof on the outside. Plywood was set on both the roof and the gym floor to protect these surfaces during the removal and installation processes. A large lift truck was used on the outside to move the old glass blocks to the dumpster and lift up the new prefabricated window sections to the 2nd floor roof level. The glass block windows were set into the openings from the outside and were placed underneath steel channels to allow for proper expansion and contraction. On the inside a scissor lift was chosen to provide access to finish trowel the inside of the windows.






The principal and maintenance manager at St. Agatha are delighted with the finished results of the project and are considering additional glass block windows for the other side of the building.


Do you have any experience or questions with church, gymnasium, commercial, factory, industrial or architectural window options? If so – please comment below.



If you are looking for assistance or an estimate to reduce costs, improve the looks and safety of your church factory or industrial windows visit Columbus Glass Block (614-252-5888 or toll free 877-668-5888), Mid America Glass Block of Cincinnati and Dayton (513-742-5900), or Cleveland Glass Block (216-531-6363).


Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

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