Find out more about the Iron Age building restoration project and the one-of-a-kind glass windows being installed

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The cast-iron façade of the Iron Age building on 20th St North, will feature impressive 6ft wide, 16ft high glass panels. Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now.

The restoration project at Birmingham’s Iron Age Building (20th Street North) is progressing at speed, with some pretty impressive panes of glass being installed this week. Find out more about this unique restoration, the owners desire to preserve the past, and what the future holds for this historic downtown building.

Iron Age Building

The intricate iron-cast façade at Birmingham’s Iron Age building on 20th St North. Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now.

Located at 212 20th Street North, adjacent to Brick & Tin and Bistro Two Eighteen, the Iron Age building which was built in 1886, and is one of only two cast iron buildings left in Birmingham (the other one is the Zinszer Building on 2nd Avenue North, which is also beautiful).

This cast-iron architectural style was prominent in the Industrial Revolution era. Birmingham’s iron industry forged unique ornamental facades and structural designs, which became popular with architects as it had the advantage of being very slender, compared with masonry columns.

The future of the Iron Age Building

Technology company CORELinQ Innovation will call the Iron building home. Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now.

Local technology firm CORELinQ Innovations will soon call the building home, along with other tenants. The Iron Age Project will also provide a modern co-working space for healthcare technology startups; the first floor providing retail space.

Read our previous stories on this future tech hub saving the Iron Age building, one of Birmingham’s last cast-iron facades and the renovation update from earlier this week.

Harsha Hatti, CEO of CORELinq Innovations explained what attracted him to buy the Iron Age building,

“I’ve always loved the downtown architecture and when this building became available a few years ago I knew it was the right one to purchase and add it to the other 3 buildings next door to create a perfect 4 building hub.”

“The best part about it are the columns and the large expansive open space between the structural beams. There is only one other similar building like this in Birmingham and the uniqueness of it is what attracted me to restore its former glory.”

Construction crews are busy working on the internal structure and the iron façade has been freshly painted white prior to the window installation this week. The building is scheduled for completion in May 2019.

Preserving the historic architectural features

The Iron Age building on 20th St North awaits installation of the remaining 6ft wide, 16ft high windows. Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now.

Beautiful buildings deserve to be preserved and this mission is important to Mr. Hatti,

“Everyone I spoke to when I first purchased it told me to just stucco over it, demolish it, or put modern windows in-between the columns. To do that would have been a travesty. The building was meant to come back to life and live again in a whole new life.”

“ Classic buildings like this have met unfortunate circumstances in many places of downtown Birmingham, and if I can help save a few then I feel I’ve done my job.”

Just how big are the windows?

The installation of Lexan glass (250 times stronger than regular glass) along the façade of the Iron Age building will use the largest consecutive sheets of glass in the city outside the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Each sheet measures 6-feet wide and is 16-feet tall. That’s about as tall as an average adult giraffe at Birmingham Zoo! Can they clean the windows?

Construction workers carefully install the first enormous window panel at the Iron Age building, 20th St North. Photos by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now.

The windows will allow plenty of natural light to flood the exposed brick and beams within the building.

Mr. Hatti described the process of installation,

“This is the hardest part of the project. We called all the major glass installation companies in Birmingham and not a single one of them wanted to touch the 16 foot tall glass installation due to its difficulty and risk. This left it to Jimmy and the team at MW Industrial in conjunction with Robbie, Shane, and their crew to put it in.”

“We had guys standing on beams 20 feet in the air to put each pane in and it took 10 guys and a crane just to carry each one into the building.”

The enormous panes of glass will be very carefully be installed this week, and based on progress so far, we cannot wait to see the finished result.

The first impressive window in place at the Iron Age building on 20th St North. Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now.

Two 6ft x 16ft windows now in place at the Iron Age building on 20th St North. Photo via CORELinQ.
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Jon Eastwood
Originally from Wales (UK) and a fluent Welsh speaker. Longtime sustainability and recycling champion. Former county recycling manager in the UK. Career highlights include introducing innovative recycling systems and achieving a point where households throw out trash just once a month. Competed in international coastal rowing championships and followed Wales throughout Europe in their Rugby and Soccer endeavours.
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