07/01/2004

Splendor in the Glass

Owners, Occupants, and Tenants Benefit From Curtainwall Exteriors

 

PHOTO: WAUSAU WINDOW AND WALL SYSTEMS

Time is Money

The Johns Hopkins University’s new 10-story Broadway Research Building in Baltimore features a variety of curtainwall systems. The 372,000-square-foot facility’s complex design, with innovative transitions and energy-efficient sunshades, articulates its architectural significance as a new “front door” to the medical school.

The building’s glass “steps” are each two-story sections of curtainwall enclosing interior spaces of impressive height. The supporting building structure transitions into adjacent single-story spaces. Additionally, the high-performance systems ensure functional needs are met with stringent adherence to acoustic, thermal, and humidity performance.

Helping address the project’s accelerated construction timeline, a pre-glazed, pre-assembled, unitized curtainwall system allowed the glazing contractor to keep labor rates low and to install a floor every three days. From start to finish, curtainwall installation was completed in 18 months.

A curtainwall system’s look and performance affects a building’s occupants and an owner’s ability to attract and retain its tenants. Architects and contractors turn to manufacturers to deliver on these ever-increasing expectations for style and function.

Aesthetic Appeal

“Visual clarity continues to be of prime importance in glass selection,” observes Steve Fronek, vice president, Wausau, WI-based Wausau Window and Wall Systems. “Combined with more stringent energy codes, high-performance ‘neutral’ coatings are now a must for curtainwalls.” Such coatings, he explains are “neutral” in appearance, “imparting minimal color, tint, or reflectivity.”

For sprawling corporate campuses or for a cluster of several similar-sized buildings, architects are choosing curtainwall to “mass” their designs. This can be achieved by either using various construction materials unified by a single curtainwall design, or by relying on various, distinctive curtainwall systems to break up an otherwise expansive structure.

Fronek continues, “Offset glass planes also can add depth and shadow to an otherwise featureless expanse of curtainwall. Structural glazing can be combined with aluminum accent trim to achieve almost any desired effect. Enhancing this, architects are making the most of manufacturers’ capabilities to custom-color-match high-performance fluropolymer paint finishes.”

Green Goals

“Offering another opportunity for an aesthetic statement, sunshades incorporated directly into a curtainwall system are a popular ‘sustainable design’ feature that improves energy efficiency,” notes Fronek.

Interest in sustainable considerations have re-emerged, and studies that show natural light helps create productive environments for working, healing, and learning.

Protective Performance

Further benefiting the end-user, curtainwalls are being tested to provide added safety and security by withstanding such demanding conditions as hurricanes, earthquakes, and bomb blasts.

Golden Valley, MN-based specialty glazing contractor Harmon Inc.’s Mike Thomas serves as general manager in Boynton Beach, FL, and shepherds the development of hurricane-resistant products. “Until the code changes of 1994, they applied just to our most southern area of the state. Now, the code covers the whole state, the coastline of Texas, and has spread up to the Carolinas.”

He predicts: “Before long, it’ll be all the way up the coast to Maine and New York. Eventually, I believe these same standards will carry over to tornado alley.”

Ideal Installation

Drawing from extensive knowledge and hands-on experience in matching performance considerations with architectural vision, specialty glazing contractors work closely with curtainwall manufacturers to assist the building team in providing the best system for the project. Involving the glazing contractor early in the design can translate into hours saved in the field, contributing to a faster construction schedule and earlier building openings.

For existing buildings undergoing curtainwall renovations, a professional glazing contractor also is a key resource in establishing a removal and installation plan that minimizes tenant distribution, while accommodating the desired aesthetic, functional, and scheduling goals.

Forward Focus

Extending their current roles, curtainwall manufacturers and glazing contractors are collaborating with building owners and other team members to explore even faster installations; innovative, resilient designs; and functional, power-generating applications.

Heather West is a Minneapolis-based writer and public relations consultant specializing in architectural building products and services.

 

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Connectrac wireways offer discrete power and technology connectivity in open interior spaces of all kinds; affordably, quickly and with long-term flexibility.



When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.

Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


Mitsubishi Electric’s H2i R2-Series heat pumps provide 100% heating capacity down to 0° F and simultaneous heating and cooling down to -4° F delivering year-round comfort, regardless of climate zone.

 
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