A glass curtain wall is defined as thin, usually aluminum-framed wall, containing in-fills of glass, metal panels, or thin stone. The framing is attached to the building structure and does not carry the floor or roof loads of the building. The wind and gravity loads of the curtain wall are transferred to the building structure, typically at the floor line. Aluminum framed wall systems date back to the 1930's, and developed rapidly after World War II when the supply of aluminum became available for non-military use.
A glass curtain wall range from manufacturer's standard catalog systems to specialized custom walls.A glass curtain walls become cost competitive with standard systems as the wall area increases. This section incorporates comments about standard and custom systems. It is recommended that consultants be hired with an expertise in custom curtain wall design for projects that incorporate these systems.