2019 | Bethesda Beat

Manufacturing Defects Probed as Likely Cause for Falling Window Panes

Protective sidewalk scaffolds set up at Bethesda high-rise

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Scaffolding protects sidewalks outside 4500 East West Highway

Bethesda Beat Photo

Imperfections in some windows on a Bethesda office building are believed to have caused panes to break and crash to the ground and inspections are “very close” to being complete.

At least three panes have fallen and shattered outside the building at 4500 East West Highway since 2017.

Sidewalks around the property were temporarily closed in February after a window popped off and while a protective scaffolding system was installed.

Dominique Daschle, a vice president at Carr Properties, the building’s owner, said the company believes the problem can be traced to imperfections during the window manufacturing process.

“These imperfections can cause the glass to break under certain conditions,” Daschle  wrote in an email.

Montgomery County has requested an assessment of the building and protocols for the inspections and repairs.

“We will be using highly regarded engineering firms to conduct the assessment,” Daschle wrote. The inspection “should take an additional 4–6 weeks.”

“Carr is being very cooperative,” said Diane Schwartz Jones, the outgoing director of the county’s Department of Permitting Services. (Jones retired earlier this month)

The county has extended an April 1 deadline to submit protocols.

“The sidewalks were closed for as minimal a period of time as possible … [now] there’s been scaffolding protection built around the perimeter of the building so that all of the walkways around the building are protected,” Jones said.

“No timeline for completing the assessment has been finalized,” Daschle wrote, “but both Carr and the county agree that this will be done in an expeditious manner.”

The building, completed in 2014 by Bethesda-based Clark Construction and designed by the Washington architecture firm Shalom Baranes Associates, cost $39 million and received a certification for its energy-efficient design and components.