ATLANTA — Parsippany, N.J.-based Skanska USA Building has begun working to return the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta to its original form, replacing the building’s 6,350 windows more than a year after a tornado shattered the 73-story hotel’s façade. Guests will continue to stay at the 1,068-room property during the project, which is expected to take approximately 15 months.

Though most of the building’s windows were unharmed in the tornado, Skansa will replace every piece of glass on the outside of the hotel, which was originally built in 1976. “Over a 30-year period of time, the sun has begun to fade the finish,” says John Reyhan of Skanska. “A new piece of glass that’s been installed adjacent to an existing piece of glass is going to have a different shade, a different texture.” Each pane of glass, which together will amount to 600 tons, will be recycled. The local architect Arnold & Associates and the Atlanta-based manufacturer Harmon Glass round out the project team.

During installation, 60 to 70 workers will focus on a bank of five floors at a time. Starting at the restaurant on the top of the building and working down, workers will replace windows on the three middle floors, using the top and bottom levels as buffers to separate construction zones from guest rooms. Harnessed workers on the outside of the property will secure a protective covering over each window, allowing a crew on the interior to remove the glass from the inside. To ensure Skanska controls every variable — which is important when installing windows 723 feet above the ground — officials have set up a weather station on top of the building to monitor changes in wind speed and oncoming storms.

“It’s a very logistically challenging project, and it certainly has its share of safety risks. We spent an enormous amount of time pre-planning this project before we submitted our proposal, studying the safety issues, studying the logistical issues,” Reyham says. “The maximum amount of work that we can possibly undertake will be done from the inside.”

— Jon Ross

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