Vitro Architectural Glass

Historic Art Deco-Style Theater is Restored and Expanded with Solarban® 70 Optigray® Glass by Vitro Architectural Glass


PITTSBURGH, PA April 19, 2023 — The Alberta Bair Theater in Billings, Mont., is the sole performing arts center in the Northern Rockies region with the capacity to present shows by major touring theater companies and artists, and its role as a home for the theater arts is nothing short of essential.

Photography: Nathan Satran Photography

In 2022, this beloved theater was carefully restored and expanded with accessibility upgrades, preservation efforts and a stunning “glass box” façade featuring Solarban® 70 glass (formerly Solarban® 70XL glass) from Vitro Architectural Glass (formerly PPG Glass), which helped earn the project a Metamorphosis Award from retrofit magazine for excellence in renovation.

The Alberta Bair Theater was originally opened in 1931 as the Fox Theater and was partially financed by the 20th Century Fox Corporation. As such, the 26,800 sq. ft., 1,390-seat theater functioned as a venue for both film screenings and regional theater performances. Designed by architect Robert C. Reamer, the original theater boasted Art Deco detail throughout the building, such as crystal chandeliers, decorative stage elements and sumptuous dressing rooms. In fact, the Alberta Bair Theater was the last theater featuring the Art Deco style to be built in the U.S. by 20th Century Fox.

Nearly a century later, architectural firm Cushing Terrell in Billings, Mont., led the renovation and expansion efforts that restored the theater to its former glory and ushered in a series of improvements to the original design that have transformed it into a more accessible venue for all.

On the building exterior, the envelope of the building has been pushed outward to provide additional space for ADA access, improved vertical circulation and an expanded lobby and box office area.

A second addition, a 4,800 sq. ft., two-story, glittering glass box façade, gives the theater a clear curtain wall system that encourages a better visual connection to the theater’s interior.

Architects at Cushing Terrell. selected Solarban® 70 Optigray® glass for this stunning addition, which has brought new life to the light gray, subtly moody façade of this historic theater.

With its transparent, color-neutral aesthetic and unprecedented solar control and visible light transmittance (VLT), Solarban® 70 glass strikes just the right balance between form and function. Due to its clarity, consistency and solar control performance, Solarban® 70 glass has become the most commonly specified triple-silver-coated glass in the entire industry, with more than 300 million square-feet shipped in the past 10 years.

When coupled with conventional clear glass in a one-inch insulating glass unit (IGU), Solarban® 70 glass outshines the performance of any other solar control low-e glass on the market today, boasting a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.27 and VLT of 64%. Additionally, Solarban® 70 glass can be combined in an IGU with any tinted glass from Vitro Architectural Glass.

In this case, Solarban® 70 glass was coupled with Optigray® glass from Vitro to accomplish a specific aesthetic. Optigray® glass is designed to eliminate the green cast typically found in conventional clear glass formulations and produces a warm, ultra-neutral, light-gray aesthetic that brings crispness to vision glazing.

Specially formulated to function as a substrate with solar control low-e coatings, Optigray® glass delivers advanced solar performance when paired with solar control low-e glasses such as Solarban® 70 glass. Optigray® glass produces light-to-solar gain (LSG) ratios of up to 1.96, with VLT between 29 percent and 50 percent, depending on which Solarban® glass is specified.

For more information about Solarban® 70 glass, Optigray® glass and the rest of Vitro Glass’s full line of architectural glasses, visit or call 1-855-VTRO-GLS (887-6457). Editor’s note: High-resolution photography is available upon request.

About Vitro Architectural Glass

Vitro Architectural Glass, part of Vitro, S.A.B. de C.V. (BMV: VITROA), is the largest glass producer in the Western Hemisphere, manufacturing a range of industry-leading, energy-efficient, high-performance products such as Solarban®, Sungate® and Starphire Ultra-Clear® glasses. Committed to continually raising the industry standard for sustainability, Vitro was the first U.S. glass manufacturer to have its entire collection of architectural glass products earn Cradle to Cradle Certified® status and the first North American manufacturer to publish third-party verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for flat glass and processed glass products. Additionally, as of April 2024, all Vitro architectural glass products meet the Top 20% Low Embodied Carbon (LEC) material Global Warming Potential (GWP) threshold the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) established pursuant to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and related guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Vitro operates seven glass production facilities across North America, four residential glass fabrication plants in Canada and one of the world’s largest glass research and development facilities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit

Vitro Architectural Glass

Media Contact:
Robert J. Struble
Vitro Architectural Glass