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Glass panels falling from Seattle hotel

Photo by Kevin Prichard
Spontaneous glass breakage is a phenomenon by which tempered glass may suddenly break without any apparent reason.Tempered glass has been raining down from the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences near Pike Place Market in Seattle.

One of Seattle’s most exclusive addresses is fixing an alarming problem: tempered glass panels from the luxury balconies of the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences have been crumbling and raining down from the sky.

It’s happened three times since July, most recently on Sunday. The Seattle Times reports the hotel at First and Union (near Pike Place Market) has now closed the balconies and is replacing all 300 panels, which are on the 11th to 21st floors.

No one has been hurt in the incidents, though one car was damaged. Falling pieces of glass have landed on glass awnings below, cracking but not breaking them. 

This summer, high-rise condos in Austin and Toronto have also seen glass panels falling from the sky. Experts say the spontaneous shattering comes from impurities of nickel sulfide in the glass.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.