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ATLANTA-Ever since a tornado struck the central business district March 14, 2008, the windows of the iconic Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel have resembled an incomplete checkerboard. Now a long-term project is under way to replace all 6,350 windows in the 73-story cylindrical structure.

Skanska USA Building will lead the 15-month replacement effort, working with architect Arnold & Associates and Harmon Glass, both based in Atlanta. The $22-million project will follow a construction process that ensures the safety of workers and minimizes inconvenience to hotel guests.

“We spent a tremendous amount of time pre-planning this project,” John Reyhan, Skanska’s executive vice president and general manager of the Georgia division, tells GlobeSt.com. “Our approach will be to start at the top of the building and work our way down, working five floors at a time.”

Between 60 and 70 crew members will be working on replacing the windows, mostly from the inside, according to Reyhan. An average of 15 pieces of glass will be taken out each day, with all 600 tons of existing windows being recycled, he says.

Only 81 of the Westin’s 1,068 rooms remain out of service since the tornado struck nearly a year and a half ago. The only major disruption expected during the process is the planned closing of the Sun Dial Restaurant on Sept. 29, with reopening scheduled for late December.

The project is expected to be the largest exterior renovation of any hotel in the Western Hemisphere, according to Skanska. Reyhan says his firm has completed two similar restoration projects in Downtown Atlanta since last year’s tornado.

Skanska will suspend 12 platforms around the entire perimeter of the hotel for the top-to-bottom glass installation. Safety will be a top priority, with a weather station being installed on the hotel’s roof to monitor wind speed and other conditions.

“The resulting window replacement plan is outstanding, not just for the Westin but for Atlanta and its skyline,” says Ed Walls, general manager of the Westin Peachtree Plaza. The 723-foot hotel has been a focal point of Atlanta’s skyline since the mid-1970s and is the fifth-tallest building in Downtown Atlanta.

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