Asheville Glass Block Restoration

Asheville, NC – 52 Broadway — Using Fire-Rated Glass Block Windows — A Building Restoration Project

Using Fire-Rated Glass Block For Building Restoration

There’s nothing better than visiting an old historic building and soaking in the surroundings of yesterday. It takes you back to a time when the world was more simple. It makes you think about the previous generations of your own family, and how they lived in the same society as those that walked through the same building did many decades ago.

Maintaining the elegance and nostalgia requires upkeep and restoration. Without it, these structures become dilapidated and run-down. Luckily there are architects and contractors that do amazing work and save these buildings.

When preserving classic structures, glass block is a great source for providing the historical feel of many buildings. Glass block was a popular piece of architecture in the early 20th century. It was economical for its natural lighting, as well as its beauty. The perk of using glass block today is the enhanced technology. Today’s designs are scanned on the production line to find even the smallest imperfections, removing the glass block that doesn’t meet quality control standards.

Glass Block Restoration

52 Broadway

We were privileged to be selected to work on the restoration of a project in Asheville, NC, located on 52 Broadway in the downtown portion of the city. Asheville is located in the western portion of North Carolina, just a short distance from the Tennessee and South Carolina borders. With the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding the city, it’s understandable that the city is such an attraction.

The city hasn’t always been in a booming phase. After the depression, the city went through decades of economic struggle, leaving the downtown area especially in rough times. This turned around in the 80s and 90s when businesses made a financial investment in the downtown area, building affordable residential spaces, as well as boutiques and restaurants. (1)

52 Broadway was built in 1923. Until 1943, it was used as a car sales facility, selling for auto companies like Cadillac. Following that it was operated by the Farmer’s Federation, offering farmers a place to store fresh meat in their frozen food locker rooms. They would close in 1963. After many years of different retail outlets, it was purchased by Craig Culbertson and Otto Hauser, who invested in their own renovation in 1996. They truly saved the historical building. (2)

“You wouldn’t believe the mess,” stated Craig Culbertson in the local Citizen Times newspaper. (3)

For 36 years they proudly operated their antique store, Magnolia Beauregard’s Antiques.

It was in 2019 that they sold the building to a new investor. With it came the completely new renovation. An art gallery will make up the first two floors of the building, topped off with apartments to fill the third floor. While preserving its historical aura, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

What better way to renovate a building than with glass block?

Asheville 52 Broadway Restoration

Glass Block Restoration 

Our assignment was the installation of their glass block windows. To build them we used fire-rated 8x8x3 SEVES Vistabrik. Being in a downtown setting, the 52 Broadway location is a zero-lot line, which means that the building comes all of the way up to the next property line. Zero-lot lines requires fire-rated windows out of concern for the safety of the neighboring buildings.

SEVES fire rated glass block is distributed with UL fire ratings of 45, 60, and 90 minutes. The fire ratings signify the survival period that the glass block could withstand a fire.

The windows required for 52 Broadway were 90 Minute Fire Rating, installing 11 windows in total; six on the South Elevation, and 5 on the North Elevation.

We used 555 pieces of Vistabrik glass block to build the windows. Vistabrik is one of our most popular glass blocks. It’s been used in many facets of society: institutional environments, commercial buildings, education, transportation terminals, and public spaces and buildings, including courthouses, embassies, and police stations. In addition to being fire-rated, it offers clear visibility and maximum light transmission. It’s an outstanding choice for both windows and walls.

There were many obstacles for the architects and contractors. We had the privilege of working with the contractor, Falcon Construction. Their project manager, Al Gregory, was a pleasure to work with. They’ve done an amazing job managing the many obstacles a nearly 100-year old building restoration project can present.

“Hundreds of challenges. Logistics. Being an old building. As we solve one problem, it creates new ones.”

With our expertise in glass block, we take pride in making our job as convenient as possible for everyone involved. GBA was contacted for having the ability to provide and install fire-rated glass block windows, but one of the perks is the long-time experience, and the hands-on approach of company CEO, Jeff Boesch.

Al Gregory adds, “I’d use them again. Jeff was fantastic. He was very detailed. I have mad respect for owners that are hands on.”

We also had the luxury of working with Samsel Architects, the architectural firm for the project. They’re a leader in renovation, doing work in commercial, residential, and educational buildings.

Fire Rated Glass Block Vistabrik

What’s Next

Coming in will be apartments for Asheville residents to enjoy in the top floor. In addition will be Jordan Ahlers’ Momentum Gallery, which will be located in the bottom two floors of the building. They’re currently located a few blocks away on Lexington Avenue. They considered one of the premier art galleries in the nation, and offer various exhibits and work from numerous artists. Next door is

GBA Architectural Products + Services, Leading Experts in Fire Rated Windows

GBA Architectural Products + Services offers fire-resistant glass block with high thermal stability, which protects vertical and horizontal structures and facades from smoke and fire.

We provide many case studies available on our website, showcasing many different types of projects we’ve completed in our long history.

We work hard to make the planning process easy. Fill out our CONTACT/REQUEST FORM, and we’ll help work out a plan for your project.

We also have our glass block experts available via phone:

East Coast: (212)-255—5787

Midwest: (877)-280-7700

West Coast: (213)-634-7050


GBA Architectural Products + Services is honored to be supplied by Seves Glassblock.


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Using Glass Block for Building Restoration – Fire Rated Windows – Asheville, NC Citation

(1) Fallows, J. (2015, April 29). Asheville Just ‘Happened’ to Develop a Nice Downtown-or Did It? Retrieved October 6, 2019, from


(2) Bulletin, — C. (2018, April 20). 52 Broadway building changes hands, to host Momentum Gallery. Retrieved October 6, 2019, from


(3) Davis, D. (2018, April 20). Historic 52 Broadway, longtime Asheville retail building, sold for $4.75M. Retrieved October 6, 2019, from